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Monkey Bread, aka Pull Aparts, Pully Bread, Picky Bread and Pinch Me Bread

There are some things that I make that are almost painfully simple.  And after reading some of the blogs this past week with all the complicated recipes — from liver pate to potato confiet, I really am almost embarrased to post this recipe.  But.. I’m a simple cook, for the most part, and sometimes the simple things are just fantastically yummy.  This is one of those recipes.

We (and by “We”, I mean my son and I), are trying to create some new traditions, and make new memories.  It’s been hard after the divorce to not be saddened by what /was/, and instead, be happy with with /is/.  And so I decided to do some new things this year, one of which is to make some different foods.  This recipe, though I have made it in the past on occasion,  is not something I would normally make.  First, I don’t often use refrigerator rolls, and second, it’s rather too much for the two of us.  But it is Christmas, and I did want new/different foods.

This version of Monkey Bread, aka Pully Bread, Pull Apart Bread, Picky Bread, Pinch Me Cake – whatever you may know it by, (and in the end, whatever it is you choose to call it), is ridiculously silly easy.  With the plethora of names this recipe is known by, there are 1000x that many versions of this recipe.  I bring nothing new to the recipe whatsoever.  It just happens to be what I decided to make, and to share here. Listed below the recipe are a few other versions.

With supervision (the caramel/syrup is just  too hot for little ones), this version of the recipe can be made by kids, and takes only about 10 minutes..maybe 15 minutes from start of prep to entry into the oven.

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Quick and Easy Monkey Bread with Pecans

3 12-ounce tubes refrigerator biscuits, or rolls (like the Pillsbury type) (or a double recipe of your favorite yeast bread)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (up to 1 cup, if you like, and I do!!)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins, dried currants, or dried cranberries (or similar)

Open the tubes and remove the ready-to-bake rolls or biscuits.  The object is to cut each piece into 4 pieces.  I try and remove the rolls from the package all in one full roll, slice longways in half twice, making 4 long pieces, and then pull them apart into the quarter section.

The traditional pan to use is a “bundt pan”.  I don’t happen to have one, so I used a disposable aluminum pan – a double long bread pan

Extra long, wide disposable pan

Extra long, wide disposable pan

size. (as shown here). Spray well with ‘Pam’, or oil well with vegetable oil and set aside.  You don’t want to use a regular bread pan size as it is too small for this recipe – it needs to be double long.

In a ziplock bag, pour in the 1 cup of sugar, and the 3 tablespoons cinnamon.  Zip it closed and shake it to mix.  Put 1/2 of the cut up biscuits/rolls into the bag, zip to close, and shake until all the pieces are well covered. Put these pieces into the pan.  Get the remaining pieces ready to go, by putting them into the ziplock bag.  Shake them, and leave them in the bag for now.

Meanwhile, put the butter and brown sugar into a saucepan.  Stir often, and then, once the butter and sugar start to melt, stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Boil for about 1 minute.

Once this has boiled, pour 1/2 over the pieces in the pan.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the pecans, and half of the remaining cinnamon.  Cover this with the remaining pieces from the ziplock bag, and pour the remaining half of the butter/brownsugar syrup overtop.  Cover with the rest of the nuts and cinnamon.

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes.  Once this is done, remove from the oven and allow to set at least 10 minutes.  Turn out onto a serving dish or platter.  This will be VERY hot, so be careful.

Notes:

  • Use walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts — whatever suits your fancy
  • I like this with a lot of cinnamon — it just makes it taste so nice — I sprinkle a bit extra over everything ;)
  • I’ve doubled this fine, but used a large, deep double cake pan.
  • This is good leftover, heated in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes.

Other Monkey Bread recipes of interest:

Christmas Wassail

Here We Come A Wassailing

Here We Come A Wassailing

Christmas Wassail

5 apples
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup port
4 12-ounce bottles of ale or dark beer, plus 1/4 cup
4 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
1 Lemon, zest only
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Slice apples in half, and core.  Place the apples in a baking dish, and cover with one cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of ale, and the port.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

In a large pot, pour in the beer – 48 ounces (1.5 Liters).  Add in the cinnamon sticks, cloves, lemon zest, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground cardamon, and the ground ginger.  Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat to low.

One the apples have finished, pour the entire contents (including the juices) into the pot with the ale and spices.  Allow to simmer over low heat for 30-35 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with a slice of fresh apple, and a cinnamon stick.

Christmas Wassail (Non alcoholic)

1/2 gallon (about 2 liters) apple cider/juice
1/2 gallon (about 2 liters) cranberry juice
1 quart (about 1 liter) orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
4 whole allspice

Add all the ingredients to a large pot, or a crockpot/all day cooker.  Stir well.

Over medium heat, continue to stir, to mix the spices in.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Keep this on low to keep warm, stirring occasionally.

Serve hot, with a cinnamon stick as garnish.

Chicken and Wild Rice, with Onion and Orange Peppers

Weekends in my house are always for cooking.  And I enjoy making food on Saturday, but Sunday meals are always so much fun to make as I get to cook with Sander.  We decide at the end of the week what we will cook together, and come Sunday, have a fun time cooking – each in our own way, making the same dish, with different techniques.

This week he chose chicken breasts and rice.  And though I love chicken and rice, I was drawing a blank on what I wanted to do.  So this recipe is, for the most part, his recipe. His choice was chicken, rice, an onion, and an orange bell pepper.

He used quick cooking white rice, while I used a rice blend by Rice Select, called the “Royal Blend”, which is a blend of Texmati white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and red rice.  It is also a quick cooking (15 minute) rice, but this recipe could very easily be done with long cooking brown, black, or red rices with the addition of a bit more stock, and a few more minutes cooking time.  I really enjoyed the nutty flavor this mix of rice gave to the dish, and cannot wait to make it again.  I plan to do some experimenting with the rice mix as soon as possible.

Chicken and Wild Rice, with Onion and Orange Peppers

Orange Bell Peppers

Orange Bell Peppers

2 pounds chicken cutlets, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces *See note
1/2 small onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper (red, orange or yellow)
2 cups wild rice (or rice of your choosing), preferably quick cooking rice
1 3/4 cup chicken stock* See note
2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
Salt to taste *

In a large pan (suitable for putting into the oven), saute the onion and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil for about 1 minute.  Add in the chicken, and chicken stock.  Cover and put into a 400F oven for about 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, add in the rice, and stir.  Leave the lid on for about 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes, remove the cover completely, and stir.  Don’t put the cover back on.  Continue to bake in the oven until the rice is cooked through.

This method works well with quicker cooking rices.  If you are using wild rice, or brown rice, add in the rice when you add in the chicken.

Note:

  • As noted above, I used a quick cooking texmati white, brown, wild and red rice blend.
  • You can use whole boneless chicken breasts, or bone-in chicken breasts, just give it 10 more minutes in the oven, before you add in the rice.
  • If you do not have chicken stock or chicken broth, use water instead, and adding chicken 2 bouillon cubes (or 2 teaspoons bouillon paste).
  • Regarding the salt:  First, if you are using a store bought chicken stock, get the lower sodium version.  Second, if you are using bouillon cubes, taste mid-way through cooking, adding salt then if necessary to keep from having the dish over salty.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies (Spritzgeback)

Copper Cookie Press

Copper Cookie Press

I remember so vividly making spritz cookies (spritzgebäck.) at Christmas every year.  I loved making the tree shaped ones, as well as the stars.  We always made trees, stars, wreaths, and camels.  And always used food coloring — red, green, yellow, and sprinkled them with sugar or decoration. What I especially remember was eating the trees — one little tree ‘section’ at a time, until all that was left was the very tip, where there was a shiny candy “ornament”.

I always enjoyed making spritz cookies, because of the many different shapes that were possible – mostly because I really dislike making rolled out cookies — they take way too long and you are never finished when they come out of the oven — you have to decorate every single one.  Spritz cookies, on the other hand, are yummy tasty, shaped nicely, and handled minimally.  A bonus for Christmas time, imo.

There are quite a lot of cookie presses on the market — everything from electric and battery operated, to hand crank, press, gun, and screw extruders.  I’m most familiar with the type shown here to the left.   The bottom twists off so you can change the shapes easily, and spritzshapesfill quickly.  It’s easy to clean, doesn’t have a ton of moving parts, and if the one I have is indication of the length of time these last, mine is just about 50 years old (my Gram gave it to me about 12 years ago).  Take a look in your mother/aunt/grandmothers cabinets, and you may find one similar to this.  I’ve collected about 40 different shaped disks over the years, so you may find a fun assortment.

Using a old press such as this is simple, but needs a good bit of wrist movement.  Choose the shape you’d like to make, and then fill the cookie press 2/3’rds full, packing the dough.  Insert the screw and tighten.  Place the press on the cookie sheet, and twist one full twist around, and then slightly backwards.  Lift, and then repeat until you’ve filled the cookie sheet.  If the dough is too soft (warm), it will stick.  Put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes (20 or so), and then start again, (careful –  if the dough is too cold, it won’t extrude.)  Press the cookies onto a cool cookie sheet, not one just out of the oven.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies (Spritzgeback)

1 cup butter, softened
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg (yolk only)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Oven should be set to 350F

Mix butter and cream cheese together well.  Add sugar, and mix until fluffy.  Add egg yolks, vanilla and lemon peel.  Mix well and then gradually add in the flour and salt.

Using a cookie press, press the cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned.  If you don’t use parchment, just use an ungreased cookie sheet.

Allow to cool about 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet, and then remove and cool completely.  These will keep fine in a tightly sealed container or bag, and freeze wonderfully.

Easy Cherry Almond White Chocolate Fudge

White Chocolate Chips

White Chocolate Chips

December has always been the time to make all those delicious recipes you’ve saved up for the Christmas season.   And this, in my house, is one of those.

I first had cherry almond fudge at my Mothers house one year when we were there for Christmas.  She had purchased it from a local candy maker, and didn’t have a recipe.  Once I was back home in New York, I did a search and came up with the following recipe.

I’ve never really changed it, though I do add a bit more chopped almonds. And I have had to substitute white chocolate chips for regular chocolate chips, as well as “white candy making disk” like things I found at a craft store in the candy section.

This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prep, and a minimum of 2 hours to cool, so it is relatively quick.  I really like to individually wrap each piece in candy foil, which makes a great presentation.

Enjoy!

Easy Cherry Almond White Chocolate Fudge

2 cups or 12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup candied cherries chopped
1 teaspoon almond extract

Use an 8×8 square pan — Spray with pam, and then line with parchment paper.  Alternativly, you can line the pan with the non-stick foil that is on the market nowadays.

Mix the chocolate and milk together, and then microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is smooth.

Stir in the almonds, cherries, and almond extract.  Pour the mix into the pan.  Chill for at least 2 hours, but best after at least 6.

Lift out the fudge, or turn out onto a cutting board.  Remove the paper or foil, and cut the fudge into 1 inch squares.

Notes:

  • I like this with extra nuts – up to 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • IF you can’t find white chocolate chips, replace them with chocolate chips, or white candy discs.
  • Hand wrap these in candy foil wraps.

Leftover Mashed Potato Cheese Pancakes

What do you do with leftover mashed potatoes?  I mean, really – who does much with them??  There are recipes out there, of course, but if you are like me, you aren’t going to a darn thing with leftover potatoes, except eat them, and then 3 weeks later, after you’ve forgotten they are in the back of the fridge, throw them out.

This recipe is a perfect and easy solution.  Perfect for leftovers from Thanksgiving, or that roast you made on Saturday. It’s a quick put together for a weeknight meal, or with a breakfast of eggs on a Sunday morning.

I’m really trying to practice the frugality that I’ve learned over the years, and this recipe is great on the pocketbook.  Use leftover mashed potatoes – the remainder of the ingredients are usual pantry staples, with the cheese being about the only thing you might not have on hand.

Enjoy!

Leftover Mashed Potato Cheese Pancakes

2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter

Mix together potatoes, egg, salt & pepper, flour and cheese. You can either make patties, by hand, or drop spoonfulls onto a hot pan, and then flatten with a spatula.  They should be about 1/2 inch thick, and around 3 inches diameter.

Melt the butter on a non-stick pan.   Cook anywhere from 5-8 minutes per side, until golden brown.  I prefer about 8 minutes, as they get nicely crispy.

Notes:

There are a lot of additions that can be made to these:

  • green onions or scallions
  • chives
  • minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • minced bell peppers (red, yellow, orange or green)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • diced ham
  • bacon bits
  • Parmesan