Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This might be the most delicious bread I have ever eaten - and that is saying something! In short, give it a try - it is absolutely worth your time. I am still a novice breadbaker so don't be intimidated! This bread is moist (but not wet) and doesn't require a lot of hands-on time. The amount of raisins seems like a lot, but it really is not. They spread out perfectly throughout the dough. The amount of cinnamon is just right. If you have a cinnamon lover around, this is definitely worth making!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

2 c. dark raisins
18 oz. (4 c.) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for dusting
1/2 c. granulated sugar, plus 2 Tbsp.
4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 packet (1/4 oz. or 2-1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 c. whole milk
1 large egg
3-1/2 oz. (7 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pans

Put the raisins in a small bowl and add enough hot tap water to cover them. Let sit for 5 minutes; drain and set aside. Lightly grease a large bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, 2 Tbsp. each of sugar and cinnamon, yeast, and salt. Combine on low speed, about 1 minute. Add milk, egg, 3 Tbsp. butter, and 3/4 c. room temperature water; mix on medium speed, scraping the bowl as necessary, until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium high and continue to mix until dough is smooth, slightly sticky, and clinging to the hook, about 5 minutes. Scrape down dough hook and remove the bowl. Gently knead in raisins by hand, just until incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, roll into a ball, and put in oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until the dough looks slightly puffy, 30 minutes. On a well-floured surface, use your hands to flatten and spread dough out until it’s about 3/4 inch thick. Fold dough in half from top to bottom, then in half again from left to right. Return dough to bowl, cover, and let sit until it has risen slightly, about 30 minutes more.

Generously grease two 8-1/2x4-1/2-inch loaf pans with butter. In a small bowl, combine remaining 2 Tbsp. cinnamon and 1/2 c. sugar; set aside. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and use a rolling pin to shape each half into an 8-1/2x16-inch rectangle that's 1/4 inch thick. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter on the dough. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over both rectangles. Starting from the short side, gently roll each rectangle into an 8-1/2-inch-long cylinder. Put in pans, seam side down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature until dough has risen slightly and springs back when pressed lightly, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Position a rack in center of oven and heat oven to 375°F. Bake, rotating and swapping the positions of pans halfway through baking, until dark brown and hollow-sounding when thumped on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaves registers about 190°F, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer loaves in their pans to a rack.
Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Brush top of each loaf with butter. As soon as loaves are cool enough to handle, remove from pans.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

I had forgotten how much I love curry seasoning until recently. Now that I've remembered, I've been using it in a lot of things. Recently, Adam and I went on a "Walking Food Tour" of Knoxville and LOVED it - such a fun, unique thing to do, and it introduced us to a lot of local restaurants that create incredible dishes using local ingredients and local talent. We got to sample dishes from each place and discovered some great new eateries we vowed to revisit soon. It was a lot of fun, and during the tour, we encountered a place that served curried chicken salad, and I decided that I needed to learn to make that on my own - it is fabulous! This is simple, especially if you have shredded chicken on hand, and it would be great in a lot of different lunch mediums - lettuce cups, pitas, wheat bread, or even an english muffin. Yummy! (Adjust all amounts to taste!)

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 c. shredded, cooked chicken
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/4 c. chopped cashews
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. chopped scallions
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together mayonnaise and curry powder. Add remaining ingredients. Serve on sandwiches or lettuce wraps.

Chocolate Delight

This is a recipe that reminds me of my grandfather, Bill. He always loved this dessert, and my family loves it similarly. It is very easy and very few ingredients.

Chocolate Delight

1 c. self rising flour
1/2 c. margarine or butter, melted
1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
9-oz. container Cool Whip
2 small boxes chocolate pudding, prepared according to package directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine flour, margarine, and pecans until crumbly. Pat into bottom of greased loaf pan; bake 15 minutes. Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 1 c. Cool Whip. Spread over cooled crust. Spread pudding over cream cheese layer. Spread remaining Cool Whip over pudding. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Note: Can use 16-oz. container Cool Whip and split between cream cheese layer and top layer. If you use this variation, use only one box of chocolate pudding.

Miso Soup

Adam introduced me to miso soup when we very first started dating (5-1/2 years ago!!), and though it took some time for me to get used to it, I have grown to love it. It's incredibly healthy, and always relatively reasonably priced. Unfortunately, when we moved to Tennessee, we realized that there are very few restaurants around that sell miso, and not all of it is good, so I set out to make my own homemade miso. For someone who isn't very comfortable with true Asian cooking, this was a BIG task! Fortunately, it ended up being ridiculously easy. Because we don't have an Asian grocery nearby, I ordered everything off The food was reasonably priced, you can pay through your Amazon account, and shipping was pretty quick (I ordered late Friday night, and it was there by the following Friday afternoon). I ordered one large container of white miso paste, 5 packets of bonito flakes (way over-ordered - probably could have used 2-3 for the amount of miso I have), one package of wakame and one package of konbu. (I also hit order *twice*, so if anyone in Tennessee is interested, I would be happy to sell my excess!)

Miso Soup

1 large strip konbu
1 Tbsp. bonito flakes
1/4 c. miso paste
1 c. firm tofu, cubed
1/2 tsp. dried cut wakame
1 tsp. chopped scallions

In a stock pot, cover konbu with 4-5 c. cold water. Bring to a simmer; remove konbu. Remove from heat, add bonito flakes, and steep 1 minute. Strain out bonito flakes. Whisk in miso paste. Add tofu and wakame; simmer 2 minutes. Garnish with scallions.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chicken with Potatoes, Peas, and Coconut-Curry Sauce

I can't say enough wonderful things about this insanely delicious dish. If you are a fan of curry at all, you will want to give it a try!!! We served this over white rice and thought it was divine. Everyone who ate took seconds - and that's saying something!

Chicken with Potatoes, Peas, and Coconut-Curry Sauce

Chicken breasts, sliced on an angle into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 lb.)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, more as needed
1/2 medium onion, finely diced (about 1/2 c.)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. seeded, minced fresh jalapeno
1 Tbsp. sweet curry powder (not madras or hot)
1 c. homemade or low-salt chicken broth
1 medium (6-oz) red or yellow potato, peeled and cut into ¼" dice (about 1 c.)
5½-oz can coconut milk, well shaken
1/2 c. frozen peas
2 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a 10" sauté pan, heat oil until shimmering. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, until lightly browned and just barely cooked through. Transfer to plate; cover with foil. If pan looks dry, add 1 Tbsp. oil. Add onion, ginger, and jalapeno and sauté, stirring until vegetables soften, 2 minutes. Add curry powder; sauté 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and deglaze. Add potato and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until potato is barely tender, 7-8 minutes. Add coconut milk and peas; simmer uncovered until peas are thawed, potato is tender, and sauce is thickened, 4-5 minutes. Taste sauce, and add salt and pepper as needed. Add chicken and accumulated juices and turn to coat with sauce. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rosemary Lemon Chicken Skillet

This is a recipe I got off Pinterest and it is PHENOMENAL. It is easy, simple, and - best of all? ONE POT MEAL. That's always a winner in my book!

Rosemary Chicken Skillet

3/4 lb. small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
Kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1-1/2 Tbsp. leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Pinch red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved

Preheat oven to 450° F. Cover potatoes with cold salted water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and spread on a greased roasting pan. Mince and mash rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 tsp. salt and red pepper flakes into a paste. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Marinate at least 30 minutes.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on both sides. Remove chicken from pan then add and sauté mushrooms. Place chicken over mushrooms and drizzle with any leftover marinade and remaining lemon juice. Add rosemary sprigs and squeezed lemon halves to the skillet. Transfer to the oven, along with potatoes, and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and potatoes are crisped, 20 minutes.

Roasted Mushrooms

These mushrooms are absolutely DELICIOUS. If you like mushrooms, it's definitely worth a try - this blows sauteed mushrooms out of the water! They're simple and easy - and the best part is that they're even more hands-off than sauteed mushrooms are! They don't even need to be turned.

Roasted Mushrooms

1 lb. mixed mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, cremini), tough stems removed, sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 325° F. On a lined baking sheet, toss mushrooms with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, then evenly sprinkle thyme over mushrooms. Slice butter into small cubes and evenly distribute over mushrooms. Roast 20-25 minutes.