bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rum-Glazed Cranberry Scones

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Cupcake Muffin.  Sara was a graduate student at Berkley in California, but now she lives in Boston.  I hope she's surviving the winter they've been experiencing there.  That has to be a huge change from California!

Sara has all kinds of yummy looking recipes on her blog, so of course it was hard to choose.  She has not one, but two recent recipes for fish tacos that look really good.  Some others that caught my eye were:

 I settled on these scones because I just can't resist anything with cranberries.  And, I've never made scones before, so I thought now would be the perfect time.  The rum glaze didn't hurt either.

Rum-Glazed Cranberry Scones
adapted from Cupcake Muffin

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/3 cup milk
For the glaze:
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 T dark rum
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse a few times, and then add the butter. Pulse until the mixture looks like crumbs with a few larger pieces of butter.  Scrape into a large bowl.
  2. In the food processor (no need to rinse), pulse the cranberries, brown sugar, and orange zest until lightly chopped.
  3. Add the cranberries to the flour-butter mixture in the large bowl, and mix with a rubber spatula. Add the milk,  a little at a time, and stir until the dough just comes together (you may need to use your hands, but be careful not to over-mix the dough).
  4. Cover your workspace with a piece of parchment (or flour it really well), and dump the dough onto it. Pat into a thick circle (about 1/2" thick), and cut into wedges, 12 or fewer depending on the size you want.
  5. Transfer to baking sheet and bake 25-30 minutes at 400° F, until browned.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly. 
    Alternate method: transfer to freezer; place scones in sealed container when frozen.  When ready to bake, remove scones from freezer, heat oven to 400° F, brush with glaze, and bake.
  6. Make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, rum, and vanilla together until smooth. Drizzle scones with the glaze and let sit until the surface of the glaze dries before serving.
    Alternate glaze:  Mix 1 T rum with 1 T powdered sugar. Before baking, brush tops of scones with glaze and sprinkle with some Turbinado sugar.

I followed Sara's recipe the first time I made these, except that I used twice as much powdered sugar in my glaze because it seemed really thin.  It could really go either way - double the powdered sugar or cut the rum and vanilla in half - and it would still be good.  We ended up with a lot of really tasty glaze all over our scones!

The scones were really good, soft on the inside and crunchy on the edges.  The cranberry and orange flavor is so good.  I liked the crunchiness so much that the next time I made them, I separated the wedges, and I raised the oven temperature to 400°.  Perfect!  They're still soft inside, but you get more crunchy edges.

I also read somewhere that freezing your scones for 30 minutes before baking will relax the gluten in the flour and make them flakier and more tender.  So, if 30 minutes is good, longer is OK, too right?  I made up a batch and transferred my parchment to the freezer instead of a baking dish and the oven.  I froze the scones and then put them into a sealed container in the freezer.  Then, whenever I wanted scones, all I had to do was take out however many I wanted to bake, let them sit on the counter while the oven was heating, brush them with a glaze of rum and powdered sugar, sprinkle with some turbinado sugar, and bake.  It's so handy to have scones in the freezer ready to bake at any time.  I will definitely be making these again and keeping some in the freezer so I can have them whenever I want!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Crock Pot Thai Chicken

One of my friends gave me this recipe ages ago.  She made it for a potluck, and it was really tasty and super easy, so of course I had to have the recipe.  I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but I did a quick search, and it's very similar to this one.

Crock Pot Thai Chicken

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 2 T dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  1. Put chicken in bottom of crock pot.  Mix remaining ingredients, except chopped peanuts and cilantro, and pour over chicken.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Use two forks to shred the chicken and stir chicken and sauce together.  Give it several minutes to combine.
  3. Serve with cooked rice and garnish with the chopped peanuts and cilantro.

If you like your food spicy, which I do, and I think Thai food is supposed to be spicy, you can add some hot chiles.  This recipe as it stands is not spicy.  I was very tempted to add a few chiles last time I made this, but my husband doesn't like his food too spicy, so I resisted.  This chicken really has a great flavor even without the extra spice.

Definitely make sure you use the boneless skinless thighs for this recipe. I wasn't paying close enough attention the first time I made this and used bone-in thighs.  The flavor was still really good, but there were some pieces of bone or cartilage or something that had to be picked out of the sauce - not fun.  The chicken was definitely cooked, though!  I also tried this with boneless breasts once, but the chicken turned out really dry.  It doesn't seem like that would be possible, with the slow cooking and the sauce, but it just wasn't right.

While searching, I found another Slow Cooker Thai Chicken recipe that looks interesting.  I may try it next time, or at least incorporate the red pepper and onion into this recipe.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Southwestern Shepherd's Pie

I found this recipe ages ago and saved it because it just looked so good.  And it is - so good.  I've made it a couple times so far, and this recipe is definitely a keeper.  I thought it was about time I post the recipe. 

Southwestern Shepherd's Pie
adapted from a Parade Magazine recipe

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chopped green jalapeño
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • fresh spinach (optional)
for topping:
  • 1-1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
  • butter
  • milk
  1. Place sweet potatoes for topping in a saucepan with water to cover. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are cooked and soft, about 30 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium-high heat; add beef and cook for 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and jalapeño and continue cooking until beef and vegetables are cooked.
  3. Add tomato paste and spices; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; simmer 10-15 minutes. Add corn, beans, and cilantro (and spinach if you're using it, cooking just long enough to wilt it). Spoon mixture into a 9x9-inch baking dish.
  4. Drain; mash with butter and milk (if needed) and spread over the meat mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of chili powder if desired. Bake in a 400°F oven until bubbly and  a bit brown, 30 minutes.

Of course I changed things a bit, but I did keep the spices the same.  The combination of flavors is really good - a bit spicy, a bit sweet.  I added the spinach because I had some that needed used, and I'm a bit obsessed with throwing spinach into everything these days.

The original recipe called for 2 T butter and 1/2 cup milk when mashing the sweet potatoes, but my sweet potatoes were so soft and mashed up so nicely they didn't really need anything.  I did add the butter before I realized that, but I completely skipped the milk.  Just add butter and milk as needed to get the consistency you want.

Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with a green salad and cornbread for a delicious dinner. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Chicken Quesadillas

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Sid's Sea Palm Cooking.  Sid lives in a small town 30 miles from the nearest Mexican or Chinese restaurant - or probably any other good restaurant, so she makes her own food at home.  I bet it tastes better anyway!  And Sid is really good at making the recipes simple and easy-to-follow so anyone can do it.

I kinda got stuck in the Mexican food section while trying to narrow down my choices. Southwest Casserole and Acapulco Chicken were two that caught my eye, but I finally decided on these yummy quesadillas.  I'm always on the lookout for easy but flavorful dinner ideas, and these fit the bill exactly.   Serve these with a nice salad, and you have a quick and delicious dinner.

Chicken Quesadillas
adapted from Sid's Sea Palm Cooking

  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 a cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 1 to 2 T chopped cilantro
  • minced jalapeno (optional)
  • 2 flour tortillas (8 or 10 inch)
  • Shredded cheese
  1. Heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add diced onion and peppers and saute until onion starts to soften.  Add diced chicken and cilantro and heat through.  Set aside.
  2. Place 1 tortilla in a larger skillet over medium low heat.  Add a layer of cheese and then half of the chicken and vegetable mixture, covering the entire tortilla.  Heat until the cheese starts to melt and then fold tortilla in half.  Add the other tortilla to the skillet; half of it will be resting on the first one.   To the half sitting on the bottom of the skillet, add a layer of cheese, the rest of the chicken and vegetable mix, and then another layer of cheese.  Fold over.
  3. Heat until cheese is melted and tortillas are starting to brown.  Flip over and  brown the other side.
  4. Once they're browned to your liking and all melty, remove quesadillas from the skillet and cut into wedges.  Serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.
Makes 2

Sid added the minced jalapeno to her quesadillas, but I chose to leave it out - even though I would have loved a little heat, too - because I didn't want these to be too spicy for my husband.  I seasoned the chicken breast with adobo seasoning when I cooked it and added some chopped cilantro to the chicken and vegetable mixture for a bit of extra flavor without getting too spicy.

Heat or no, the flavors were really good.  I had mine with a bit of salsa and sour cream, and extra cilantro and some avocado, but he ate his just the way they were.  We'll be having these again.

Soon - since I used half an onion and half a pepper, I only used half the chicken breast I cooked, so that means I got to make them again!  They make a really good lunch, too.  I added the jalapeno to those - because my husband wasn't home - and a squeeze of lime.  So good!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

I was looking for some kind of crock-pot recipe to take to a potluck.  Since I just cooked a turkey, I wanted something with turkey, but didn't really have anything else in mind.  This recipe came up, not because it's a crock-pot recipe, but because someone had made a note that she made this and threw it in the crock-pot on low until dinner time.  And that's pretty much what I need - something I can make on a Friday and then take on Sabbath and just warm up with the crock-pot.

So, I made it Friday, had some for lunch, and threw the rest in the crock-pot to warm up for the potluck.  Good thing I had some for lunch, because there was none leftover to bring home after the potluck.  The recipe says it's "a healthier twist on a classic creamy turkey and wild rice soup" but since I've never made any kind of creamy turkey and rice soup, I don't really know about that. I do know that it's a simple soup to make with a really good flavor, and with plenty of veggies in it, there's no reason why it wouldn't be healthy.

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
adapted from Delish

  • 1 c. uncooked wild rice or wild rice blend (I used a wild rice and brown basmati blend)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 c. sliced mushrooms, about 4 ounces
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 c. chopped celery
  • 3/4 c. chopped carrots
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 4 c. turkey broth
  • 2 c. cooked turkey, chopped
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, pepper, and parsley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in turkey, sour cream, and rice and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.  Taste and season with additional salt & pepper if needed

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, which I did not have, so I substituted dried parsley.  If you use fresh, add it at the end with the turkey, rice, and sour cream.

Time-saving tips:
  • The rice will take 45-50 minutes to cook; cook it early in the day or the day before and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Slice mushrooms and chop the rest of the vegetables; store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pasta e Fagioli

We've always loved Olive Garden's Paste e Fagioli Soup, and it was a happy day when my friend Peggy found a copycat recipe that tastes almost exactly like Olive Garden's. I have modified it slightly by only using 1/2 lb. ground beef, cutting the pasta way down, and adding a bit more liquid.

Pasta e Fagioli
adapted from Top Secret Recipes

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15-oz. can great northern beans, drained
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 12-oz. can V-8 juice (OR 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce and 1 can vegetable broth)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 1 cup water (use it to rinse tomato and tomato sauce cans and then add to pot)
  • 1/2 cup ditali pasta
  1. Begin browning ground beef in 6-quart pan over medium heat. 
  2. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and continue cooking until beef is browned. Drain fat if necessary.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, except pasta; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cook pasta in boiling water over high heat, just until it is al dente.  Drain.
  5. Add pasta to soup pot; simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and serve

In the past I have used the V8 that the recipe calls for, but V8 is not something that I usually buy or have on hand.   So, this last time I made it I substituted a can of vegetable broth and an additional 8-oz. can of tomato sauce, and it turned out great.  I also didn't have the exact pasta so I used Creamette Rings instead.

I warmed this up several times - yay for leftovers! - and added a bit of water each time, just to keep the consistency right.  Some soups I love as they get thicker and thicker each time they're reheated, but I'd rather not let this one thicken up too much.  This is also a good reason not to use too much pasta.  The original recipe called for 8 oz. of pasta, and that is fine the first day, but as the soup sits the pasta soaks up the liquid, and pretty soon you have something more like goulash.

If you like the Paste e Fagioli Soup from Olive Garden, you'll definitely want to give this recipe a try.  So yummy!  Sprinkle with some Parmesan, serve with some crusty bread, and enjoy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tuna & Broccoli Pie

I was looking for some kind of tuna rice casserole recipe when I ran across this Broccoli and Tuna Rice Pie, and it looked so good I just had to try it.  It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it reminded me of the eggs my dad always made when I was growing up.  His didn't include rice or broccoli, just eggs, tuna, and cheese baked in a cast iron skillet.  So good!  (Why don't I make that once in a while?)

Anyway, we had this the other night for dinner, and it was really good.  The leftovers tonight were even better!

Tuna & Broccoli Pie

  •  1 to 2 T butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 T dried chives
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 8 oz. broccoli florets (if frozen, run under water to thaw)
  • 1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Melt 1 T butter over medium heat.  Add onion and saute with basil and chives until onion is translucent.  Add more butter if needed as onion is cooking.
  3. Turn off heat and stir in rice, tuna, and broccoli; add cheese.  Spoon mixture into greased deep dish pie pan.
  4. Whisk together eggs and milk; season with salt and pepper.  Pour over rice mixture. Shake dish to settle eggs and remove any air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. If necessary, cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much.   Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes; Cut into wedges and serve.
Serves 4

I baked this in my cast iron skillet, because I used it to saute the onion and I figured it could go in the oven, so why dirty another dish.  And because my dad always baked his eggs in a skillet.  BUT, I won't be doing that again.  The cleanup was harder than I expected.  Maybe my skillet just isn't seasoned properly... but usually I can just scrub it out with a bit of salt and this time I had to do some soaking and a lot more scrubbing.  So, next time I'm using a pie pan.

Since there are only two of us, we ate half of this for dinner one night and then I heated it up again for dinner tonight.  For the leftovers, I heated it at 350° for 15 minutes covered and then I removed the cover and heated for an additional 15 minutes.  And then I added just a touch more cheese to the top and left it in the oven just long enough to melt it.  I'm not sure what the reheating did, but this was even better the second time.  The bottom and edges of the already cut wedges crisped up a bit, and the flavors had blended better.  We really enjoyed it.  Oh, and a little hot sauce on top is good, too.

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