Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Short Cut Lazarus Chicken Salad

Looking for an all around great tasting and easily adaptable chicken salad recipe?  Well then you came to the right spot.  If you've ever tasted the Lazarus Chicken Salad recipe then you know how good it is.  And you also know its a bit time consuming as well.  I've taken some short cuts and adapted this recipe to save you some time while not changing the great taste or ingredients of the original recipe.  If you are interested here is the original recipe, or you can google "Lazarus Chicken Salad Recipe" and get numerous copies of the original recipe. 

So here is my adaptations of the recipe and it includes the crock pot...my new best friend. 

Ingredients for Dressing:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups milk
1 cup heated vinegar
1/4 cup egg yolks (3 large eggs)

Place the milk in a double boiler over medium heat.  Mix dry ingredients and add to milk, and cook in double boiler until flour is thoroughly cooked and mixture is slightly thickend. Add heated vinegar and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Beat egg yolks and add a little of the mixture to the yolks to keep them from curdling, return the yolks to hot mixture and cook for 10 minutes longer.

Crock Pot Chicken:
Take 6 thawed chicken breasts and place them in a crock pot on high for 2 hours (or frozen place on high for 4 hours).  Flip chicken over half way through.  Do not add water.  Make sure chicken is cooked through.  Place chicken in a large metal bowl and beat with an electric hand beater.  It shreds the chicken and takes all the work away from you doing it by hand.  Alternatively you could boil the chicken in a stock pot full of water for 20-25 minutes on medium high heat and then once cooked you can beat it with an electric hand beater. 

The dressing makes enough that you can freeze it in 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon portions and get plenty to last you a year. 

I add 2 stalks of diced celery to my cooked and beaten chicken.  You can also add grapes or nuts if you choose.  Then I take 1/4 cup +1 tablespoon of the dressing mixture and mix it with 3/4 cup +3 tablespoons of Hellman's Mayonnaise.  Poor dressing over chicken mixture and mix.  Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!  I usually serve this on croissants, but it also tastes great on crackers. 

Speedy Sweet and Sour Chicken

When I say Speedy Sweet and Sour Chicken I don't mean get on the phone to your local Mexican take out restaurant and have it delivered (and pay way too much).  I mean cooked and prepped and cleaned up in a speedy fashion.  This recipe inspiration comes from one of my favorite sites (Tammy's Recipes).  I've found numerous recipes on her site that I love! 

Did I forget to mention that this recipe is also Gluten free (to my knowledge) and made mostly in a crock pot!  Well it is!

Ingredients for the Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 lbs)
2 tsp homemade garlic salt (1 1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt (Copy Cat Lowry's Seasoned Salt).  (I omitted the turmeric)

Ingredients for the Sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 cup water
2 tbsp organic soy sauce
3 tbsp ketchup

5 cups cooked rice

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Season one side of the chicken with half the dry ingredient mix.  Place the seasoned side down in the crock pot.  Season the tops of the chicken breasts with the other half of the dry ingredient mix.  Yes you rea(lly need it all!  Turn crock pot on high and cook for about 2 hours or until chicken is cooked through 4 hours if chicken is frozen). Remove chicken and cut into pieces.

Place all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce pan over medium high heat.  Whisk until the sauce comes together and is thickened.

I serve this meal over white rice with a side of broccoli.  You can either pour the sauce over the chicken to coat or you can serve them separately and let people dress their chicken and rice with as much sauce as they prefer.  This meal is also good with cubes of pineapple. 

Yes it was that easy and it tastes that good!  Thanks Tammy's Recipes for the inspiration.  Here is the original recipe from Tammy's Recipes.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chili Con Carne

Now ordinarilly I wouldn't try a chili recipe.  Especially not one at a restaurant or off the internet without someone having referred me to it.  However, I had dried pinto beans looking to be used up and beef stew meat in my freezer waiting to be used up.  Can you tell it's Spring cleaning time!?  After a quick search on Food Network I came across this recipe

So this recipe required a little too much thinking for me...not because the recipe was difficult, but because I had dried pinto beans and had to figure out how much dried beans I would need to equal the same amount of canned beans.  I found this website, this one, and this website to be helpful in figuring out how to properly soak, cook and measure dried beans verse canned ready to use beans.  Although the process was very laborious the beans tasted phenomenal and are by far a lot cheaper then buying canned beans (you would have to buy 3 cans of beans to equal 1 bag of beans).  I've never been one to pass up on a bargain so bargain beans it is! 

In brief here is what I did with the dried pinto beans.  I placed one 16 oz bag of dried pinto beans in a bowl and covered it with water and let it sit over night.  I changed out the water a couple of times and added water when needed.  I also covered it with Saran Wrap and let it sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours I drained the beans and picked through them and tossed any that had lost their shells.  I then put them in a large pot and covered them with water an inch above the top of the beans.  Brought them to a boil and once boiling I put a lid on the pot and simmered them for 3-4 hours.  During the last hour I slightly salted them.  Once tender I drained them and continued along with the recipe.

So here is how else I adapted the recipe:

5 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon salt (I didnt actually measure, just seasoned the meat and onions and then again at the end).
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large spanish onions chopped
5 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup chili powder, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground oregano
1 (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes (I definitely suggest this increase)
3 cups of cooked pinto beans (I cooked the whole 16 ounce bag of dried pinto beans but had 1 1/2 cups left to freeze for another time).
5 cups of homemade chicken stock (I used Tyler Florence's Recipe minus the turnip

We served it over rice, of course you can add cheese or other toppings you like.


Pat the meat dry with a paper towel and season with the salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large stew pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the meat, in small batches, until well browned, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Transfer meat to a bowl and reserve.

With 2 tablespoons of oil left in the pan saute the onions over medium heat for 10 minutes, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in the 1/3 cup chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for 2 minutes. Add the canned diced tomatoes and whisk in 4 cups of the stock. Add the meat and any accumulated juices back to the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer. Season the chili with the salt and pepper, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender puree 1 1/2 cups of cooked pinto beans with the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock. Add the bean mixture to the chili along with the 1 1/2 cups of whole cooked pinto beans. Let simmer, uncovered, 1 hour more or until the meat is tender. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons chili powder and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with rice and your favorite condiments.

This recipe was only minorly adapted so much credit goes to Food Network for the recipe. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Diner Style Hamburger Melt (Adapted from Carla Hall's Turkey Melt

This recipe is a great way to change up a boring hamburger, reduce the calories of a diner burger, and save you the gas and money of going out to eat.  Carla Hall provided a great starting point for this recipe and I'm very anxious to share it with you.  So without further wait here is my adaptation of Carla Hall's Turkey Melt
Karin's Diner Style Melt:
8 slices of Rye Bread
1 pound of 93 Percent Lean Ground Beef (or fattier if you like that...usually people use 80/20)
2 Large White Onions (thinly sliced)
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
Spicy Brown Mustard
Country Crock Spreadable Butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Once hot add the onions and a large pinch of salt.  Stir to combine. Toss in the sprigs of thyme and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are carmelized.  When onions are carmelized check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed and remove the thyme sprigs. 
While the onions are cooking make the hamburger patties.  In a medium size bowl add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper.  Form the ground beef into 4 ounce patties (trust me you will be full).  Make the patties very flat and wide enough to fit your bread.  Drizzle the patties with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and then place on the warm griddle.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side.  If cheese is desired add now (my husband used provolone). 
While the burgers are cooking, smear the outside slices of bread first with a healthy smear of butter and then a healthy smear of mayonnaise.  Make sure to do this to both the top and bottom piece.  Then on the inside of one piece of bread put a healthy smear of spicy brown mustard. 
Place the buttered side of one slife of bread down on the griddle and place a cooked pattie on top and then top with carmelized onions and the second slice of bread.  Place a pat of butter on the griddle to help carmelize the bread.  Flip the sandwich and carmelize the other side too. 
Take off the griddle, let cool slightly, cut in half and serve with your favorite hamburger accompaniments.  I served mine with ruffled potato chips and strawberries. 
To see Carla Hall's original recipe go here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Cupcake Bouquet

A Mum for your mom on Mother's Day.  So I've seen numerous bakeries and blogs doing these cupcake bouquets and I've wanted to do one for the longest time.  What better occasion then Mother's Day to make one.  I bought a terra cotta pot from the local craft store and had my son paint his hand on the pot.  My husband hot glued a bow on it and wa la it was decorated.  I bought a green styro foam ball to place in the pot in order to have something to stick the cupcakes into.  Originally, I left the styro foam ball sticking quite far out of the pot and then realized I'd need a dozen cupcakes to decorate each pot (one for grandma, one for mom, one for stepmom and thats a lot of cupcakes!!!).  That's way too many cupcakes.  So into the wee hours of the night my loving husband cup down the styro foam balls for each pot.  This way I would only need six cupcakes for each bouquet...phew!!!  No last minute baking!  Here's a look at the pot before the cupakes were added.
The toothpicks were where each cupcake was located.  I suggest planning out where your cupcakes will go and placing two toothpicks per cupcake.  In effort to not destroy your cupcakes I also suggest you prepoke the holes for the toothpicks in the bottom of your cupcake wrapper. 
For this bouquet I made carrot cake cupcakes iced in cream cheese icing and then a buttercream mum piped on top.  In the future I will premake some medium consistency buttercream flowers to fill in the gaps.  Another idea would be to fill in the gaps with some mint leaves or other leaf.  Lastly, I found it easier to poke wholes in the cupcake wrappers if the cupcakes were refrigerated.  Here is a link to Wilton's page for how to make a shaggy mum cupcake.  Below is how they turned out. 
Good luck in your cupcake bouquet endeavors and I hope yours goes well! 

Personal Review of Wilton's ColorCup Baking Cups

If you know me, you know I've been on the hunt for baking cups that don't loose their color when you bake in them.  Recently I found a need for standard size cupcake wrappers that didn't loose their color.  I figured I'd give Wilton's ColorCups a try.  They definitely kept their color...very bright and bold.  The cupcake didn't peel away from the wrappers in baking like I've heard from other reviews, but I've only used them once.  However, they did not make for the best wrappers if you need to work with the cupcakes in anyway.  I used them to make a cupcake bouquet and while sticking a couple toothpicks in them and pressing them into styro foam the wrappers began to peel away.  Overall, I'd give these cupcake wrappers a positive thumbs up from me...just wish they came in the taller size too. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Inspired by a Card

One card and a whole lot of inspiration.  I just completed Wilton's Course 3 for Cake Decorating and for the final project we had to cover and design a cake in fondant.  I'm not particularly fond of the taste but I like the ease of working with it when I need something sculpted and for certain flowers.  It's definitely very forgiving...accept when it comes to covering the cake, which I hated doing.  I rolled mine too thin (definitely makes the job harder), and I didnt have enough for covering the cake....OOPS! 
Anyway I bought a box of 30 different greeting cards for all sorts of occasions.  I found this bright, cheery card in the congratulations section.  I tried to emmulate the flowers and colors and overal design idea while still trying to make it my own.  I loved the orange/pink color I got and the green one too.
Here's a look at the flowers I made out of 50/50 gumpaste/fondant.  
I used the smaller of the two daisy cutters.  I tinted two different colors of fondant.  One is just a tad darker and more pink then the other.  I cut out a flower in each color and after using one of the ball tools and making that curled effect on the flowers I glued them together using a pea sized ball of gumpaste disolved in warm water and then brushed it on between the layers of flowers.  For the center I used a piece of lime green and yellow and lightly molded them togehter to form a ball.  Then coated the ball in the gumpaste glue and rolled it in yellow sugar and then glued it to the flowers.  I allowed them to dry for a few hours before using them.
I then made my cake and tinted the rest of my fondant colors.  I used the small round cutter to cut out some circles and the cutter wheel to cut out 1 25" strip in green and 1 25" strip in the darker pink. I used pipping gel to adhere it all to my fondant covered cake.   
Here is my final cake!

Don't mind my cracking fondant! 
You can find inspiration in a lot of different ways!  This time for me it was a greeting card. 
I hope this inspires you to bake something up in your kitchen today! 
Happy Spring, Happy Baking!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Karin's Rhubarb Cupcake

Since winter I've been itching for Spring and Rhubarb season.  I love rhubarb!  Usually I make at least one rhubarb pie a year.  This year I thought I'd try to turn it into a cupcake.  My first batch tasted yummy, but wasn't very strong on the rhubarb taste.  In that batch I had used Rob's Roasted Rhubarb Compote Recipe (as seen in the last issue of Food Network Magazine- with the cinnamon rolls on the cover) and incorporated it into the actual cupcake recipe.  Below I will share his recipe with you and illustrate how I came up with a mighty tasty recipe.
Karin's Rhubarb Cupcake Recipe
First start out by making Rob's Roasted Rhubarb Compote (Rob Bleifer).
Cut 9 rhubarb stalks into 1/4 inch pieces.  Transfer to a 13 x 9 baking dish and toss with 1 1/2 cups sugar and 3 pinches of salt.  Roast at 350 degrees until soft, about 25 minutes.  Stir in 3/4 tsp vanilla extract (I forgot that step and I can tell you it's necessary!).  Strain the Rhubarb through a fine mesh sieve 2 times.  Reserve the juice for the cupcakes and a syrup that you can use on ice cream.  Take the remaining rhubarb and run a quick knife chop through it to break the pieces down. 
For the Cupcakes:

2 3/4 cups of flour + 1 tablespoon

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

2 sticks of unsalted butter softened

2 cups of sugar

3 eggs at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup homemade buttermilk (I use Emeril Lagasse's recipe, but I use the white vinegar instead of lemon).
About 3/4 cup liquid drained from Rob's Roasted Rhubarb Compote

1.      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2.      In a small bowl sift the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3.      In stand mixer (or large bowl), cream butter and sugar until well mixed and airy.

4.      Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.

5.      Mix vanilla, buttermilk and drained rhubarb juice in a small bowl and mix.

6.      Slowly add in the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture. I do it 1/3 at a time- making sure it is fully mixed in and I add the milk mixture after the first and second flour addition. Make sure you start and end with the flour. Beat an additional 1 minute after everything is added to the mixture.

7.      Line a cupcake pan with your favorite cupcake liners (I got about 22-24 cupcakes from this recipe).

8.      Scoop an even amount of batter into each cup. I have an oxo scoop which I believe is the 2 1/4 inch scoop and holds 1/3 cup of batter. You should have enough for 22 cupcakes.

9 .  Bake for about 21-24 minutes. I started checking at 18 minutes just to be safe. You want them to be golden in color (mine took 21minutes for standard size cupcake wrappers and 24 minutes for taller sized cupcake wrappers). Make sure a toothpick comes out clean, but don't over bake.

10.  While cupcakes are baking make the frosting.

Rhubarb Buttercream Frosting (the base is one of Wilton's buttercream recipes that I adapted)

1 cup solid vegetable shortening

1 cup butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 cups Confectioner's Sugar Sifted (*note that I did not use the full 8 cups of confectioner's sugar as some people said it was too sweet...just depends on your preference).

3-4 tablespoons milk (I use 1 or 2 percent milk)

2 tablespoons drained Rhubarb juice

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and butter until there is no lumps. Add in the vanilla and mix well.  Gradually add sifted confectioners sugar a cup at a time. Beat well on medium speed between additions of sugar. Scrape sides and bottom often. When all the sugar has been added, mix in the milk and rhubarb juice. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refridgerator when not in use. Refridgerate in an airtight container and it can be stored for 2 weeks. Rewhip before using after refridgeration.
Assembling the cupcakes:
Take the cupcakes and hallow out a small circle in the top.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the rhubarb compote into the whole.  Ice with the rhubarb buttercream.  Enjoy.
**Take any remaining rhubarb juice and place it in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling reduce it to a slow simmer.  Simmer until reduced by half.  Enjoy as a syrup on ice cream...yum!  I couldn't just waste it!
Here are some pics!

Tomorrow they are headed to work with my husband...if they stayed here Lord knows I'd eat them all!  Feel free to let me know if you try out this recipe and what you think of it!