Friday, January 28, 2011

Farmhouse Pork and Apple Pie

I've been trying out many, many new recipes this month trying to find something worth sharing, but nothing has been very spectacular until last night.  It was the grand prize winner of a pork recipe contest, and I completely understand why.  Everyone loved it and had seconds (or thirds).  This dish takes some prep time, but it's worth it.  It's supposed to be made in a huge oven-proof skillet, but I didn't have one big enough so I transferred everything to a 9x13 - which it filled completely.  This recipe makes a lot of food.  I made more mashed potatoes than the recipe calls for (6 potatoes instead of 4), but it was such a thin layer of potatoes I would do a few more next time.  I think I will cut the recipe in half next time for my little family, too.

Farmhouse Pork and Apple Pie
1 lb sliced bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium onions, chopped (seems like a lot, but they cook down)
3 lbs boneless pork, cubed
3/4 c flour
oil, optional
3 tart cooking apples, peeled and chopped
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c apple cider
1/2 c water
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 c milk
5 Tb butter, divided
Additional salt and pepper
Snipped fresh parsley, optional

Cook bacon in an ovenproof 12-in. skillet until crisp.  Remove with a slottered spoon to paper towels to drain.  In drippings, saute onions until tender; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Dust pork lightly with flour.  Brown a third at a time in drippings, adding oil if needed.  Remove from the heat and drain.  To pork, add bacon, onions, apples, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Stir in apple cider and water.  Cover and bake at 325 for 2 hours or until the pork is tender.  In a saucepan, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender.  Drain and mash with milk and 3 Tb butter.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove skillet from the oven and spread potatoes over pork mixture.  Melt remaining butter; brush over potatoes.  Broil 6 inches from the heat for 5 minutes or until topping is browned.  Sprinkle with parsley if desired.  Serves 10.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cheesecake? Yes, please.

If you're anything like me, you find yourself making a LOT of treats in December. I'm always looking for new recipes to try and hoping to find some new favorites.  Last month I was in charge of the faculty birthday treats from the PTA at my kids' elementary school, and I decided it was the perfect chance to try out some new ones.  So I pulled out my Bake Sale Cookbook (my favorite cookbook ever) and started searching for mouthwatering treats.  Cheesecake bars sounded like they'd be a hit, and they were.  When I went back to the school later that day to clean up, there wasn't even a crumb left on the platter!

They look scrumptious, right?  If you're looking for some fabulous cheesecake bars for your December treats, I highly recommend this one.  Enjoy!

Cherry Cheese Bars
1 c walnut pieces, divided
1-1/4 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 butter
1/2 c coconut

2 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling*

Heat oven to 350.  Grease 13x9x2-inch pan.  Chop 1/2 c nuts coarsely.  Reserve for topping.  Chop remaining 1/2 c nuts finely.  For base, combine flour and brown sugar in medium bowl.  Cut in 1/2 c butter until fine crumbs form.  Add 1/2 c finely chopped nuts and coconut.  Mix well.  Reserve 1/2 c crumbs for topping.  Press remaining crumbs in bottom of pan.  Bake at 50 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Do not over bake.  For filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in small bowl.  Beat at medium speed until well blended.  Spread over hot baked base.  Return to oven.  Bake 15 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Spread cherry* pie filling over cheese layer.  Combine reserved coarsely chopped nuts and reserved crumbs.  Sprinkle over pie filling.  Return to oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Cool in pan on cooling rack.  Refrigerate several hours.  Cut into 2-1/2 inch bars.  Makes 3 dozen.

*You can substitute another flavor pie filling for the cherry pie filling.  I didn't want big chunks of cherries, so I used a stick blender to puree the pie filling first.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pork Chops with Apples and Stuffing

This recipe is insanely simple and oh, so good.  I wondered if it would have enough flavor when there are no seasonings at all in the meat, but it wasn't a problem.  This is a dish where you determine your ideal taste ratio and then create the perfect bite every time.  My perfect bite was made up of  fairly equal amounts of each of the three flavors.  My kids were nervous when they saw apples baked into their dinner, but we have a rule at our table that you have to try a bite of everything served, so they each tried a tiny taste and then kept eating and eating.  My family inhaled it before we got any pictures, so this one is courtesy of Taste of Home, as is the recipe.

Pork Chops with Apples and Stuffing
6 boneless pork loin chops (1-inch thick and 4 ounces each)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 package (6 ounces) crushed stuffing mix
1 can (21 ounces) apple pie filling with cinnamon
In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, prepare stuffing according to package directions.  Spread pie filling into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.  Place the pork chops on top; spoon stuffing over chops.  Cover and bake at 350° for 35 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160°.  Yield: 6 servings.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Throw out all your ideas of what soda bread is supposed to taste like (you know, the kind that you only eat once a year and only then because it's tradition and not because you really like it). THIS is what soda bread should taste like. We tried this new recipe for St. Patrick's Day and will be making it a permanent part of our holiday celebration. I left out the caraway seeds and baked mine in a 9-inch glass pie dish, which worked perfectly. While I normally don't like raisins baked into...well, anything...I thought they perfectly complemented this bread and wouldn't make it without them. This one is good enough to enjoy any time of year, but serve alongside your favorite corned beef and cabbage recipe for a perfect combination.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Irish Soda Bread
1/2 cup white sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional - I thought it was perfect without them)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch round cast iron skillet or a 9-inch round baking or cake pan.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour (reserving 1 tablespoon), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins, and caraway seeds. In a small bowl, blend eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir the liquid mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Knead dough in bowl about 10-12 strokes. Dough will be sticky. Place the dough in the prepared skillet or pan and pat down. Cut a 4 x 3/4 inch deep slit in the top of the bread (NOTE: Mine was way too sticky and soft for the slit to hold, but it still turned out great so don't stress this part). Dust with reserved flour.

3. Bake for 65-75 minutes. Let cool and turn bread onto a wire rack. (NOTE: I didn't turn mine out but instead placed a kitchen towel over it to keep it warm and served it directly out of the pie dish, cutting out a wedge at a time and spreading with butter. It is best served warm.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Joshua's Magic Muffins

Joshua, being a fan of Malt-O-Meal, asked me for months to try this recipe he found on the side of the Malt-O-Meal box. When I finally got around to it, I wished I had tried it sooner! These delicious morsels are so yummy and satisfying and just a little sweet. No need to put honey on them, just add a little butter and they'll stand on their own. Best of all, they are sooo easy to make.

Joshua's Magic Muffins
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Original Malt-O-Meal hot wheat cereal, dry
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Preaheat oven to 400ºF. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir together until all ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into greased or paper-lined muffin pans, filling cups 3/4 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until center is firm to the touch.

Yield: 12 muffins

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Treats

Our Christmas plates this year looked something like this - a few old favorites and a few new things I tried.  I had a definite favorite, but everything turned out delicious.  I was going to dip pretzel rods in caramel and milk chocolate and drizzle with white chocolate, but I ended up buying chocolate covered pretzels and drizzling them with white chocolate instead.  The peanut butter cookie recipe is here.  Here's the rest of the yummy goodness.

Holly's Scrumdiddilyumpscious Pumpkin Bars
2 c flour
1-1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (3 oz) pkg cream cheese
1/4 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 c sifted powdered sugar

Sift together dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients and beat together.  Add dry to wet and beat until combined.  Spread butter in an ungreased 15 x 10 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.  For the frosting, mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Gradually add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Spread over cake and enjoy.  I like to use a double batch of frosting (use a whole 8 oz package of cream cheese).  You can also make this in a 9 x 13 for more of a cake dessert instead of bars with a single batch of frosting.

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
1 (14 oz) pkg flaked coconut (5-1/3 c)
2/3 c sugar
6 Tb flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp almond extract
1 pkg (8 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl.  Stir in egg whites and almond extract until well blended.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased and floured cookie sheets.  Bake 20 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheets to wire racks and cool completely.  Dip cookies halfway into melted chocolate.  Let stand at room temperature or refrigerate on wax paper-lined tray 30 minutes or until chocolate is firm.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.  Store in tightly covered container up to one week.

German Chocolate Bars
2/3 c butter, softened
1 pkg German chocolate cake mix
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tub coconut pecan ready-to-spread frosting
1/4 c milk

In a medium bowl, cut butter into cake mix.  Press half of the mixture (about 2-1/2 cups) in the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 pan.  Bake 10 minutes at 350.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over baked layer.  Drop frosting by tablespoonfuls over chocolate chips.  Stir milk into the remaining cake mixture and drop teaspoonfuls of this batter on top of the frosting.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake portions of the surface are slightly dry to the touch.  Cool completely.  Cut into squares.  Cover and refrigerate.

Toffee-Top Cheesecake Bars - my favorite - SO SO SO good
1-1/4 c flour
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c butter
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 c (8 oz pkg) English toffee bits, divided

Combine flour, powdered sugar, cocoa and baking soda; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Press firmly on bottom of ungreased 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add milk, eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Stir in 1 c English toffee bits.  Pour mixture over hot crust.  Bake 25 minutes or until set and edges just begin to brown.  Remove from oven.  Cool 15 mimnutes.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c English toffee bits evenly over top.  Cool completely. Refrigerate several hours or until cold.  Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Picnic Chicken Pitas

This is so good, great for a meal on the go, and made even easier by using rotisserie chicken. It's one of those meals I hadn't made for awhile, and when I finally made it again I wondered why it had been so long. Everyone absolutely loved it.

Picnic Chicken Pitas
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen broccoli florets, cooked and drained (I always use fresh broccoli - about 2 good-sized bunches)
2 c shredded cooked chicken (or diced)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 Tb prepared mustard
1/2 tsp salt, optional
1/8 tsp pepper
4 pita pockets (6 inches), halved
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (I do more)
Optional Ranch dressing

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, chicken, cheese and tomato. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, salt if desired, and pepper; pour over the broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Spoon about 3/4 c into each pita half; top with bacon. I like to add Ranch dressing to the mayo mixture, probably about the same amount as mayo.