Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 364: Fudgey Cake Bars

First thing this morning I have some news about the cookbook.  There haven't been very many orders so far.  If I were to print it with so few orders I would lose money on it.  I'm going to wait a few more weeks and see if more orders come in before I make a decision on whether or not to have it printed.  I'm hoping everyone is just waiting until after the Christmas expenses are over to order.  So if you want a copy place your order soon!  But I'll keep everyone updated.

Second, I had a request from a reader to do a review of how my equipment held up after such heavy usage and I think its a great idea!  So next week I'll do a review of my equipment and post some pictures of how my pots and cooking table look now.

Finally, I have one more recipe to post this afternoon to reach my goal of 365 days.  So come back later today so I can give you all a temporary farewell and my thanks!

I made these yesterday afternoon as a treat for my kids.  They are so simple and easy to put together that its ridiculous.  I have to admit that I melted the chocolate in my microwave.  Its about 22° outside, the wind is blowing like crazy, its cold in my garage and I'm wimping out!  I did bake these outside though so I didn't completely give up!  :)  I found this recipe here.

Fudgey Cake Bars
12" dutch oven

1 yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips, I used semi-sweet

Combine cake mix, eggs and oil and press 2/3 of it into a greased 12" dutch oven. In a microwave safe bowl, combine milk and chocolate chips. Microwave to melt, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Don't microwave too long, stir well and allow the melted chocolate to melt the chunks still left after microwaving two times at 30 seconds each. Pour chocolate mixture over crust. Sprinkle remaining crust over chocolate. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until they start to turn golden. Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Serves 12.

The Finished Product




The Review

Whoever came up with this recipe is a total genius!  Cake mix, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk?!  All I can say is YUM!  These were super easy and best of all fast and delicious!  My kids loved them!  These are a keeper.  Grade A.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 363: Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

Today was most certainly a soup night!  Its supposed to be about 8° tonight so we all needed something to warm us up.  I found this recipe in a taste of home cookbook and I was really intrigued by it.  I wondered how pumpkin would taste in a chili.  I was also a little worried about how my kids would react if they knew it was there.  Only one way to find out!  We ate these in bread bowl and it was a hearty meal.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili
12" dutch oven

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey (I used chicken)
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a dutch oven over a full spread of coals, saute the onion, yellow pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Move about 1/4 of the coals to the lid and simmer for 2 hours or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings.

The Finished Product


Sorry!  That pic doesn't even let you see the chili!
The Review

This was surprisingly good!  It was originally a slow cooker recipe, but it was easy enough to adapt for the dutch oven.  The pumpkin was very subtle and if you didn't know it was there you'd never guess.  I'll be making this one again next fall.  Grade B+.

Day 362: Sukiyaki

This is our traditional New Year's Eve meal.  My hubby's family has been making this on New Year's for over 30 years.  A family friend lived in Japan for several years and learned to make it while he was there, so I can actually vouch for the authenticity of this one.  Since most of our family was in town for the week we decided to celebrate early.  It also meant I got to share the recipe with all of you.  It is a mixture of thinly sliced beef and vegetables simmered in soy sauce.

Sukiyaki
12"or 14" deep dutch oven
Sauce

2 cups soy sauce
4-6 cups water
1 1/2 -2 cups sugar
Pepper

Combine the sauce ingredients and adjust to taste.  You don't want it too strong or sweet.

Vegetables

Rice sticks or bean threads, soaked in water until softened (In a pinch you can use ramen noodles without the seasoning packet)
Bean sprouts
Bamboo shoots
Mushrooms, sliced
Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), torn
Green onions, sliced into strips lengthwise
Yellow onions, quartered
Tofu, cubed
4 lb. sirloin tip roast, sliced thin.

Heat some oil in a deep dutch oven over a full spread of coals. Add roast and cook in batches. Place vegetables and noodles in the dutch oven (It should be really full). Cover with sauce. Move about 1/4 of the coals from the bottom to the top and simmer until everything is tender. Serve with rice.

The Finished Product


The Review

Since this has been a tradition in our family forever, you can guess how good it is.  It is one of my favorite meals, bar none.  The only draw back to this meal is that it is expensive and time consuming.  But for a once a year celebration I can't complain.  The onions are my favorite part so I always make a ton of them.  Grade A.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 361: Pumpkin Ginger Scones

Here is the pumpkin scone recipe I made last night to go with the marinated baked chicken. 

Pumpkin Ginger Scones
10" dutch oven

2 cups flour
7 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. baking powder
5 Tbs. cold butter, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large bowl, combine the flour 7 Tbs. sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger and baking soda.  Cut in 4 Tbs. of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Combing the egg, pumpkin and sour cream and stir into the dry ingredients.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead 10 times.  Pat into a 8-9 inch circle.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Separate wedges and place in a greased dutch oven.  Melt remaining butter and brush over the dough.  Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of sugar.  Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes using 2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Serve warm.

The Finished Product




The Review

I really liked the subtle pumpkin flavor these had.  My only complaint is that they were way too crumbly.  I think next time I'll up the pumpkin or sour cream just a little to make them more moist.  Grade B.

Day 360: Marinated Baked Chicken

I have to admit, this was one of those meals where I threw together what I had in the fridge and pantry just so we could eat something.  I really didn't plan ahead.  Actually, we were lucky to have something to eat!  But it turned out well.  I served this chicken with a green salad, baked spaghetti squash and pumpkin scones (which I'll post later this afternoon) and it made a tasty meal.  I didn't marinate my chicken because I was running behind lazy.

Marinated Baked Chicken
12" dutch oven

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup soy sauce
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder

Combine all the ingredients except the chicken and set aside 1/4 cup.  Place the remaining 3/4 cup into a resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. Drain the chicken, discarding the marinade.  Place the chicken in a greased dutch oven and bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until juices run clear.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Brush the chicken with the reserved marinade several times during baking.  Serves 6.

The Finished Product


The Review

I really wish I'd marinated the chicken.  It had such good flavor, I can only imagine how much better it would have tasted if I'd made it properly.  Funny how that works!  :)  The meat was so tender that we could cut it with a fork.  This is very simple and easy and yummy.  Even my little kids liked it. We gave this a B+.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 359: Basil Garlic Bread

I'm trying to get caught up so I can finish the year with 365 recipes.  I got behind when I took a week off to be with my mom.  This bread is actually one I cooked that week, but never posted.  Thank goodness I transferred all my pics to my computer before my camera broke.  It comes from a Taste of Home magazine.

Basil Garlic Bread
10" dutch oven

2/3 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. butter, softened
1 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.  In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the flour and mix well.  Add the yeast mixture and mix well.  Mix in 1 1/2 cups flour.  Then add enough flour to form a soft dough.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled.  Punch dough down, shape into a ball and place in a greased dutch oven.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.  Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Serves 8-10.

The Finished Product


The Review

I was a little disappointed in this bread.  It had great texture and was really soft, but the flavor seemed off.  It was missing something and didn't taste quite right.  When I compare it to some of the other breads I've made this year, it falls a little flat.  I have to give this one a C.

Day 358: Cheesy Mushroom Chicken

I can't believe the year is almost over!  I can't believe I've cooked in my dutch ovens every day this year--sometimes more than once!  I'm not sure how I'm going to feel giving up the every day dutch oven thing.  I told my hubby I was going to take a month off in January, but he doesn't believe me.  He says I won't be able to leave them alone that long.  He's a smart man!  :)  But in a way, I'll be glad to be relieved of the pressure of blogging everyday and trying to find new recipes.  But I'm looking forward to trying some new and exciting things and experimenting more.  Since I was feeding a family I couldn't do too much experimenting because we had to be able to eat every night.  But next year I'm going to experiment a lot.  I hope you'll keep reading and cooking right along with me.

Today's recipe is one I cooked sans recipe.  Its basically a skillet cordon bleu, and I'm sure everyone has a version of this one, but today you're getting mine!  :)  Before I forget, I have to thank my daughter for letting me use her camera!

Cheesy Mushroom Chicken
12" dutch oven

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups crushed butter flavored crackers
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 Tbs. butter or margarine, divided
4 slices ham
4 slices smoked provolone cheese

Flatten the chicken to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Place the egg in a shallow bowl.  Combine the cracker crumbs and salt in another bowl.  Dip the chicken in egg then in the cracker crumbs and set aside.

In a 12" dutch oven over a full spread of coals, saute the mushrooms in 2 Tbs. butter until tender.  Remove and set aside.  Add the remaining butter to the dutch oven.  Add the chicken.  Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until browned.  Cover and move enough coals to the lid to bring the oven to 350° (1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom).  Bake for about 10 minutes or until juices run clear.  Remove the lid and place a slice of ham, mushrooms and a slice of cheese on each breast.  Cover and cook until the cheese is melted.  Serves 4.

The Finished Product


The chicken is hiding under there somewhere!

The Review

This was absolutely delicious!  I took one bite and was hooked.  I wish I'd made a few extra.  The butter flavored crackers really add a nice flavor and texture.  They were the perfect coating.  And be sure to use the smoked cheese, you won't be sorry.  This got rave reviews from the whole family.  You need to go to the store and make this tonight!  Grade A.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 357: Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread

I made this bread to slice and toast for breakfast Christmas morning.  I actually made it a few days in advance and froze it.  This recipe comes from a Taste of Home cookbook.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread
10" dutch oven

2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/2 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oats, milk, shortening, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide in half; roll each piece into a 16 x 8 inch rectangle. Brush with butter. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side; pinch seams to seal.

Place loaves seam side down in two greased 10" dutch ovens. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 25 minutes. Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Use 1 1/2 rings plus a couple of coals on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Cover loosely with foil if bread browns too quickly. Remove from pans to cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.

The Finished Product

Broken camera = no pics.  Hopefully I'll have it back in a day or two.  Keep your fingers crossed!

The Review

I really loved this.  It is hearty and chewy and really yummy.  I love the texture the oats add.  It was great toasted and spread with honey butter, but I was thinking that French Toast would also be great made with this bread.  Grade A.

Day 356: Ranch French Bread

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday.  I know we did.  It was hectic, but full of friends, family, love and gratitude.  Sorry I didn't post yesterday like I'd planned, but I went to my Mom's to help clean up after the Christmas chaos.  There were 9 adults and 18 kids crammed into her house, and by the time the day was over it looked like a bomb had gone off.  So I went to help her get cleaned up and organized.  By the time we were done we were both completely spent! 

This recipe comes from a Taste of Home cookbook.  I served this bread with the hand rolled raviolis I made for Christmas Eve dinner.

Ranch French Bread
14" dutch oven

2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 cups warm buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 eggs
1-2 envelopes dry ranch salad dressing mix
2 tsp. salt
8-9 cups flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add 1 tsp. sugar and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the buttermilk, butter, eggs, ranch dressing mix, salt, 4 cups flour and remaining sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down. turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide into fourths.  Roll each portion into a 14 x 12 inch rectangle.  Roll up jelly roll style starting on the long end.  Pinch seams to seal and tuck ends under.  Place seam side down in a greased dutch oven.  Withe a sharp knife, cut 5 shallow slashes across the top of each loaf.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Brush with melted butter.  Cool on wire racks.  Makes 4 loaves.

The Finished Product

I dropped my camera on Christmas eve and now its not working.  :(  I took it to see if it can be fixed so I'll add the pic soon.

The Review

This was surprisingly good.  The ranch flavor was really subtle but gave it a nice flavor.  The crumb was really soft.  We sliced it and topped it with Monterrey Jack cheese then laid the slices in the dutch oven until the cheese melted.  It went really well with the raviolis I made for Christmas.  Grade A.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 355: Cranberry Cake

Just a quick post!  I've been up since 4:30 a.m. making hand rolled raviolis for dinner and getting everything ready for tonight.  The fat man cometh!!  I'm as excited as my kids!  I won't be posting tomorrow since its Christmas, but I'll have 2 recipes on Sunday.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and my love goes out to all my wonderful readers!  Thanks for your comments and your support.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Cranberry Cake
12" dutch oven

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
2/3 cup chopped pecans (I left these out)
Whipped cream, optional

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until slightly thickened and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Add butter and extract; beat 2 minutes. Gradually stir in flour just until combined. Stir in cranberries and pecans. Spread in a greased 12" dutch oven.

Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Serve with whipped cream. Serves16-20.

The Finished Product

My camera is charging so I'll add the pic as soon as I can.

The Review

This is really yummy!  The cranberries are tangy and the cake sweet.  Its the perfect combination.  It is the perfect way to showcase a berry that is most often neglected.  I'll definitely be making this again!  Grade A.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 354:Herbed Cheese Ring

I found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine.  Its perfect paired with soup.  I got busy and forgot to put the topping on, but it was still great!

Herbed Cheese Ring
10" dutch oven

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/4 vegetable oil
2 Tbs. honey
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp. each dried oregano, basil and rosemary, crushed

Filling

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. paprika

Topping

1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. sesame seeds
4 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add the milk, oil, honey, egg, salt, whole wheat flour, 1 cup of white flour and herbs; beat until blended.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled.  Punch the dough down and turn onto a floured surface; divide in half.  Roll into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle.  Combine filling ingredients and sprinkle half over the dough.  Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long end.  Pinch seams to seal.  Place seam side down and bring the ends together to form a ring, pinching the ends to seal.  With a sharp knife, cut 1/2 inch slashes at 2 inch intervals. Carefully transfer to a greased dutch oven.  Repeat with the remaining dough. 
Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  Brush each ring with egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds and Parmesan.  Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Makes 2 loaves.

The Finished Product


The Review

The whole family loved this.  We served it with Ham Bone Soup that I made using the last of the Honey Baked Ham and the kids liked the bread better than the soup.  Which is saying something because they devoured the soup.  I think next time I'll reduce the amount of herbs just a little and maybe mix in some Monterrey Jack cheese (just because I like it), but other than that, it was really good.  Grade A.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 353: Chili Verde

This version is loosely based on a recipe.  I didn't have everything that the recipe called for, so I just substituted and added what I did have.  We all thought it turned out great!

Chili Verde
12" dutch oven

3 lbs. pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1 inch slices
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups chopped onion
1 Tbs. minced garlic
2-5 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 (4 oz.) cans green chilies
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can El Pato tomato sauce (yellow can)

Salt and pepper the pork.  Lightly dredge all the pork in flour, shaking off the excess.  Heat the oil in a 12" dutch oven over a full spread of coals.  Brown the pork in batches; don't crowd the meat or it won't brown.  Remove the pork and set aside.  Saute the onions and garlic until light golden.  Combine all the ingredients back into the dutch oven.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer until tender, about 2 hours.  Stir occasionally and replenish the coals as needed.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  When the pork is tender, remove from the pot, shred and set aside.  Reduce the sauce over a full spread of fresh coals.  Boil lightly until the sauce is thickened.  Add the meat back into the sauce, mix well and heat through.  Serve hot with flour tortillas.Garnish with fresh cilantro and sour cream.  Serves 8-10.

The Finished Product


The Review

Now I've never really had Chili Verde before, so I have no idea if this is even remotely authentic (but I suspect not  :)  ).  But I can tell you it is really good.  I only used 2 jalapenos, but next time I'll use all 5 to add a little more spice.  My 16 year old son ate 5 tortillas filled with meat and loved it.  I'm guessing he'll also finish off the leftovers at the same rate.  Even my 5 year old ate this.  Grade B+.

Day 352: Spinach Pizza

Just a quick post for now.  I'm still a couple of days behind so I'll try to do 2 posts today! 

Spinach Pizza
12" dutch oven

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough  (or make your own dough)
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
1-2 cups chopped spinach
2 medium tomatoes, sliced (Roma or other paste variety works best)
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

Unroll the pizza dough and shape to fit in the bottom of a greased 12" dutch oven.  Bake at 450° for 7-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and spread with Alfredo sauce.  Top with spinach, sliced tomatoes and cheese.  Return to heat and bake 10-12 minutes longer or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.  Serves 6.

The Finished Product



The Review

I loved how light this pizza was.  Its not greasy or heavy.  My kids, however, were not thrilled with this.  I'm glad I made a pepperoni and olive pizza for them.  This will make a repeat performance at our house.  Grade B+.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 351: Vegetable Stuffing Bake

Its been a big day at our house!  We've spent the better part of the day digging out from under almost 20 inches of snow and its still coming down!  This storm was supposed to be rain, boy did Mother Nature fool us!  But its been an absolute blast.  The kids have built snow men, snow forts and igloos.  They've been in and out of the house a dozen times to toss their winter gear in the dryer, warm up and get ready to go out again.  And I'm looking forward to the homemade Raspberry Hot Chocolate that we'll have later!  The biggest plus is that we are almost guaranteed a white Christmas!  Hooray!  The down side is trying to cook in all the snow.  But even that's not a big deal--I like the challenge.

Today's recipe is a vegetable side dish.  I think I did something similar early in the year.  I've tried so many new dishes that I forget what I've done and what I haven't.   This is a variation of the earlier recipe.  It comes from a Taste of Home magazine.

Vegetable Stuffing Bake
10" dutch oven

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup processed cheese sauce
8 oz. frozen cauliflower, thawed
8 oz. frozen corn, thawed
8 oz. frozen broccoli, thawed
8 oz. frozen carrots, thawed
1 (6 oz.) pkg. cornbread stuffing  mix, divided

In a dutch oven over a full spread of coals, saute the onion in oil until tender.  Stir in the soup and cheese sauce until blended and heated through.  In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and 1 cup of the stuffing mix.  Add to the soup mixture and mix well.  Sprinkle with the remaining stuffing mix.  Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the edges are bubbly.  Serves 6-8.

The Finished Product



The Review

This was pretty good.  It was simple and loaded with veggies.  I liked that it wasn't overly soupy or saucy.  All of my kids liked it and some even went back for seconds.  Grade B+.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 350: General Tso's Chicken

This is my favorite thing to get when we go out for Chinese food.  I very rarely order anything else.  But since we've had to tighten our purse strings (just like the rest of America) we don't eat out much at all anymore.  Besides, I like the challenge of finding quality restaurant recipes I can make at home.  I've tried several versions of this one over the last few years, and all of them have fallen flat until now.  I found this at cookscountry.com. 

General Tso's Chicken
12" dutch oven

Marinade and Sauce



1/2 cup hoisin sauce or tomato paste
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves , minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Coating and Frying

3 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups vegetable oil

For the marinade and sauce: Whisk hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and water in bowl. Combine 6 tablespoons hoisin mixture and chicken in zipper-lock bag; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat oil a 10" dutch oven over a full spread of coals until shimmering. Cook garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups hoisin mixture and simmer, whisking constantly, until dark brown and thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and keep sauce warm.

For coating and frying: Whisk egg whites in shallow dish until foamy. Combine cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and remaining hoisin mixture in second shallow dish until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Toss half of chicken with egg whites until well coated, then dredge chicken in cornstarch mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer coated chicken to plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over a full spread of coals until oil registers 350 degrees. Fry half of chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning each piece halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to paper towel-lined plate. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.

To serve: Warm sauce until simmering. Add crispy chicken and toss to coat. Serve over rice.  Serves 4.

The Finished Product


The Review
If I hadn't made this myself, I would have sworn it was take out.  It was fabulous!  The sauce was perfect.  My little ones thought it was a little too spicy, so next time I'll tone it down for them, but I would have liked a few more red pepper flakes.  You can use tomato paste instead of the hoisin sauce, but I wouldn't recommend it.  The hoisin sauce adds such great flavor that its worth it.  I found the hoisin sauce at my local Smith's (Kroger) store, so its not a specialty item.  This should go on top of your must try list!  Grade A.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 349: Ilene's Cheesy Onion Rolls


This has been a family favorite of my family since I was a little kid. As I got older and learned how to make these rolls I would make them for family functions. It is a easy roll recipe to mix up. I decided it would be fun to try it in the dutch oven. Actually when cooked right they work out  really well. I can just taste them now. If you were to make them in a regular oven then you just cut rectangles instead of circles.You make a top and a bottom. So cut two pieces for each roll instead of folding over the circle in the dutch oven recipe. This is a great recipe to try just in time for the holidays.


Ilene's Cheesy Onion Rolls
14" dutch oven

2 cups buttermilk
½ cup sugar
½ tsp soda
4 ½  tsp yeast or 2 pkgs yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp shortening
5 to 5 ½ cup flour enough to make it ball around spoon while mixing
2 cubes butter
1 chopped med onion
1 package shredded cheese
Pam cooking spray

Soak yeast in ½ cup lukewarm water with 2 tbsp sugar added. Heat buttermilk to lukewarm
and add other ingredients. Add yeast and then add flour last. Added enough flour to make dough ball around spoon. Leave in mixing bowl, cover with towel and let rise. Punch down roll out dough, cut out with round cutter. Spray dutch oven with Pam. Put pat of butter inside roll and then fold in half. Add pats of butter to tops of rolls.  Fill dutch oven till full of rolls. You may have a small amount of dough left. Cut onion and add to top of rolls. Let rise cover with towel. Cook  for approximately 35 min using 1 ring of coals on top and one ring of coals on bottom. Check on occasion to make sure they don't get over cooked.  When they look light brown add melted butter and shredded cheese to your desired amount.

(Optional)
Caramelize onions in brown sugar and butter. Cook bacon and cut in to bit size pieces.  Add onions , bacon and cheese to tops or rolls.
 The Finished Product


 With out the cheese on top yet and made at home.




Now I have to tell you this was a pic from our compitition. For some reason the yeast did not work that well that day. Every time we have made them at home they turn out to perfection.


The Review
Well like I said this has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. Although at first it was not one of Randy's favorites in the begining. It took me making them in the dutch oven for him to really like them. It will always be one of my favorite rolls. I love the buttermilk along with the yummy cheese taste and of the onions. You may just want to try it sometime during the holidays. We give this recipe an A.

Day 348: Hearty Corn Chowder

Hi everyone!  I'm back from taking a little break and spending time with my family.  A big thanks to Randy and Arlana Patten for filling in this week.  I hope you enjoyed their recipes as much as I did.  They are wonderfully kind people to take over for me on such short notice.  I noticed one of their recipes waiting to be published, so you may get one more from them! 

Thanks for all your kind words and prayers on behalf of my mom.  She is doing well and we did get some encouraging news from the doctor on Friday.  Her cancer was caught at an early stage and is very treatable.  Not that it will be fun, but the prognosis is good.  Her treatments will start after the new year so we are planning on enjoying Christmas to the fullest!

The break from blogging was nice, but I didn't take a break from cooking.  Its such a habit to cook in my dutch ovens, that I kept right on doing it.  Cooking really is therapy for me.  It gives my mind something else to think about and is an outlet for all my nervous, stressed out energy!  So, thanks again for all your love and support and on to today's recipe.  Its one of my favorite soups.  This is comfort food at its best.  The fact that it is loaded with bacon is a plus too!

Hearty Corn Chowder
12" dutch oven

1/2 lb. sliced bacon
1 cup chopped celery (I ran out of celery so I used carrots)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
1 cup water
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can cream style corn
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
6 oz. smoked sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices (I used kielbasa)
1 tsp. dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

In your dutch oven, over a full spread of coals, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain on paper towels; crumble and set aside.  Drain all but 2-3 Tbs. of the drippings.  Saute the celery and onions in the drippings until the onion is lightly browned.  Add the potatoes and water.  Move about 1/4 of the coals to the lid and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the corn, milk, sausage, dill and bacon.  Continue simmering until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.  Season to taste.  Serves 6.

The Finished Product



The Review

This gets an A just for the bacon, the fact that it is delicious is just icing on the cake.  The sausage also adds a really nice flavor.  It is hearty and very filling.  I served it with bread sticks and a green salad and we were all stuffed.  This is one of those recipes where you can really taste the dutch oven flavor.  And that's saying something coming from me.  I'm so used to the flavor dutch ovens add that I rarely taste it anymore (sad, I know).  You really should try this one!  Grade A.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 347: Sweet Chili

Good Morning Readers, This is Randy and Arlana  reporting in from Stockton, Utah. We made some more of that award winning chili today. We took it to a family function we had with the kids. This recipe I copied from the Idos site a while ago, when they had the old server up. It is from Rob Love, I think he had won some awards with it also. But if not we sure have, every time we enter it, we always get request for the recipe, which we gladly give it out. We have tweeted it out a little, and every time it usually is different by a little, because we are always trying out some more tweets on it. It is such an easy and good basic recipe, you can tweet it to be hot, mild, or sweet and sour. So with that being said, I guess on with the recipe.

Rob's Sweet Chili :

12" dutch oven

2 1/2 Pounds of browned Hamburger
1  pound of Bacon ( Cut into bite sized pieces then cooked)
1  28oz can of Home Style Baked Beans
2  15 oz cans of Pork and Beans
1  14 oz of Kidney beans ( large Red beans)
1  14oz of some other bean ( I like to use Black beans)
2  14 oz of Stewed Italian Styled tomatoes

In a  separate bowl mix together:
 1 cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup of cider vinegar
1/4 of a bottle of BBQ sauce
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
1 teaspoon of ground mustard

To assemble:

After browning the meat and bacon, throw everything in the dutch oven, let it simmer, for a 1-2 hours usually, because it becomes alot thicker, as the liquid will be steam  out. It can  be served after simmering for 30 minutes if needed. That is the way Rob does it.

Now for the tweets I have done.
1 onion diced and put in bottom of the dutch oven
1 green pepper diced and put in bottom of the dutch oven
1 pound of Bacon ( I usually use the Hickory smoke, or the Maple syrup bacon, or cut 1/2 lbs from both.)
3 or 4 Tablespoons of saved Bacon grease.
So with 2 rings of  charcoal under the dutch oven I cook the bacon, onions and peppers.
Then I throw in the hamburger and brown it. Remove from charcoals, Drain the grease off.
Remove 1 ring of charcoal from the bottom. And put it on the top of the lid.
Add 2-3 Table spoons of hickory Smoke, and mix in
Add  about 1/2 bottle of Aunt Jemima Country Rich maple Syrup stir in
Add about 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory & Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce
Add 1 tsp of spicy brown mustard instead of the ground mustard.
Add 1 can of Bushes Bold & Spicy Beans
Add 1 can of Bushes Country Style Beans

To assemble:

Mix all together, and let simmer, the longer it simmers the better it is. I don't steam out all of the water. Just on low heat 1 ring on bottom and 1/2 ring on top skipping every other one.

Finished Product


The Review :

The family thinks this one is a keeper, it such an easy basic recipe, with all the beans coming out of cans, instead of soaking them for hours and changing the water etc. You can kick it up a notch with some hot peppers, and some cans of hot or mild tomatoes, hatches chilies, or go sweet and sour it up with pineapple juice, and brown sugar, and few pineapple chucks, or use your favorite or make your own barbecue sauce. We give it a "A" 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 346: Sweet Glazed Dutch Oven Meatloaf

Good Day Readers, This is Randy and Arlana from Stockton, Utah, reporting in this morning. Here is a recipe that is one of our family's favorites. I found it a year ago or so at the Camp Chef web site. So without further ado on to the recipe.

12"-14" Dutch oven



Sweet Glazed Dutch Oven Meatloaf

This recipe will feed 4-6 people and can easily be super sized for those large groups. You can make this meatloaf as large as 11 pounds.

 The ingredients:

1.5 pounds bulk breakfast or country sausage
1.5 pounds ground beef
1 cup of roasted onion flavored croutons
1/2 cup of 1/4"X1/4" cheddar cheese cubes or cheese crumbles
1 pound of Italian seasoning
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

In a 8" dutch oven mix the following ingredients together on low heat.
1/3 cup ketchup or Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory & Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple ice cream topping

To Assemble:

Mix all but the last three ingredients together and form a log. If you are super sizing, form a ring in the bottom of the dutch oven to shorten cooking time.
Keep all of the cheese on the inside of the log, by pushing the blocks back inside when visible
Place into the center of the dutch oven



Place the dutch oven over 6 -8 evenly placed coals and place 13-15 more evenly spaced coals on top of the lid. Rotate the oven and lid separately every 15 minutes to keep the heat as even as possible. Cook for 45 minutes and check to see if the meat is almost done. If not continue cooking until the meat is nearly done checking every 5 minutes.
When the meat is ready, remove as much of the grease as possible. And brush all the sides with the 3 remaining ingredients mix and continue cooking for 15 minutes with just the coals on top.

The Finished Product



The Review



At first I followed the recipe to a tee but then I started adding 1 onion diced to the hamburger mix and I replaced the ketchup with  Sweet Baby Ray's hickory & brown sugar barbecue sauce.  But one thing for sure. Both ways are excellent. I love the taste of the sausage, brown sugar, cheese and pineapple. Our family gives this recipe an "A"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 345: Patriotic Patty Cobbler

Good Morning! I am trying to make up for the days that where missed while Toni was very busy tending and supporting her mother. So Hopefully we will post 2 recipes today. Here at home we have about 5 or 6 favorite dutch oven recipes that we probably cook with at least 1 a month at our house. And usually they are fairly easy and cheap and quick. I mean we rarely eat, pork chops, steaks or do racks of ribs because of the cost involved. So we stick to recipes that use chicken and hamburger etc. Stuff we can get on sale. Anyway we like cobblers because they are so easy to do and don't require a lot of time. We have tasted a lot of cobblers during the years and this one I must say is our "family favorite." We have had  a bunch of people come over to our house in the last two years taking care of Arlana's father, whom was living with us at the time, and everyone of them have asked us to make this recipe for them. It tastes that good. So without further ado, on to the recipe.

Patriotic Patty Cobbler

12" 9 quart dutch oven

Ingredients:

1 quart or 2 cans of Cherry Pie filling
1 quart or 2 cans  of Blueberry Pie filling
2 boxes of white Cake mix
1 stick of Butter
1 tub of Cool whip

Spray Pam in the dutch oven and evenly coat the sides and the bottom of the dutch oven. Take out the bags out of cake mixes, and divide both bags into 1/3's, mark on the bags with a magic marker. Dump out a third of each bag into the dutch oven, and spread evenly across the bottom of the dutch oven. Now spread the Blueberry pie filling over the top of the cake mixes. Next Spread out a layer of cake mix, using a other 1/3 of cake mix out of both bags. Spread evenly over the layer of Blueberry pie filling. Now spread the Cherry pie filling over the layer of cake mix you just put down.Now finish with the remaining 1/3 of the cake mix over the Cherries. cut the stick of butter into 1/4" pats and place them all over the top of the remaining cake mix. Bake for 45 to 75 minutes at 350 or until cake is golden. So use 9-10 charcoals for the bottom heat, depending on how big your charcoal is, for 1 ring, and for the top you need more heat so use 1and 1/2 ring on the top. You will have to change out your charcoals 1 time also. Sometimes I have to go and extra 10 or 15 minutes extra with just top heat to get it done.


To assemble:

We mixed it up on this one and put the cherries first.
this is the top with the pads of butter
If you want you can cut back on the butter, to a 1/2 stick if desire:

                                                               The Finished Product


The Review


We love this cobbler. It is our favorite for our family. We would rate it an "A" for cobblers. If you have some vanilla ice cream in the house, it is great.  And if you where camping out and cooked this up for dessert one night after dinner and topped it with whipping cream, it would be a awesome.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 344: Reese's Peanut Butter Cake


Good Morning,
Here is a recipe that will be a hit with all your young kids and especially your teenagers.
We cooked this cake up a few weeks ago because my youngest son, Colton, likes Reese's peanut butter cups and he was in a mood for a cake. We cooked up this cake a few years ago and forgot that it was in our cook book. (That might have been because it was packed away in boxes, while we where building our home for the last 2 years).  Colton and his friend, Chad Ward, Will and Jen's Ward son, baked it at the Stockton Days Cook Off in Stockton, Utah, and they won the Tooele County Mayor's Award for this cake which helped them to qualify for competition in the 2011 IDOS World Dutch Oven Cook Off if they desire. Will and Jen Ward are excellent dutch oven cooks themselves and have competed in the Worlds Cook Off each year for several years. Anyway on to the recipe.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cake in 2- 10'' dutch ovens

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened coca powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)
1-2 bags of miniature Reese's peanut butter cups, cut alot of them in half.

To make the cake:
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and set aside. You will need to divided this into 3 different portions when adding to the wet ingredients. 

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one, beating for 1 minute. Scrap down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add a third of the dry ingredients in the bowl.

Next pour a third of the buttermilk in to the mix, and mix it in. Continue dumping a third of the dry ingredients, followed by a third of the buttermilk into the mix, blending well, to eliminate any dry bumps and finish dumping in the last third of the dry mix and buttermilk. Scrap down the bowl and add melted chocolate into mix and fold in with a rubber spatula. Spray the dutch ovens down with Pam. You can put a piece of parchment paper down in the bottom if you like.  Divide the batter into 2 equal parts, pouring into each dutch oven. Put 8 coals on the  bottom and 14 coals on the top. Cook for 20 -30 minutes or until it is done. Use a toothpick to check. When done let dutch ovens and cakes cool off before turning out on to cooling rack. Use a piece of circular cut cardboard to press against the baked cake layer to hold it together while turning it out of the dutch oven. Or you can buy Cake Circles and do the same with them. Set aside and let cool.

Frosting 

Ingredients:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Mix the confection sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt into a bowl and mix at medium to low speed until creamy. Scrap down the bowl and add the cream and beat on high until mixture is light and smooth.

Assembly
Put 1 layer on a serving tray and frost the top of the cake and then put the remaining layer on top. Frost the top of the cake and the sides. Decorate the cake with the the cut up Reese's peanut butter cups forming a row around the bottom and around the outer perimeter of the top layer of the cake with a few in the center.
Eat and enjoy!

       THE FINISHED PRODUCT






   Coltons Award Winning Cake

The Review

This cake definitely tastes like a big over sized Reese's peanut butter cake. I could only eat a small piece but when I looked over to see what my son and his friends had, they where going back for seconds and having big pieces . The peanut butter cups are not my most favorite candy. (Sorry Reese's), so I might grade it a little lower than normal. I would give it a "B+" for a grade. But if you were out camping with all the little kids, the WOW factor, would be great because their eyes would become as big as silver dollars with all the candy attached to it. You can dress it up with a can of whipping cream and some crush walnuts on top. And you can tone down the peanut butter taste with some vanilla ice cream or milk. I will post some of my other favorite cakes that I like even better later. Sorry I didn't get any pictures of a cut piece. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 343 : Shepherds Pie

Since Toni and her family have taken a few days off to rally around her mother and family, she has asked the us to fill in and post on her awesome blog. This is Randy and Arlana posting from Stockton, Utah.  I copied this recipe from Sweating Eagle on the IDOS recipe board a few years ago. My mother had a recipe very similar to this which she cooked in the oven in a pot. We love this recipe and always cook this when we have company over because they always beg us for it. We have cooked it at several ward functions and group gatherings and always get a lot of request for this recipe. We cook it in a 12" deep 9 quart dutch oven and fill it to the brim. So without further ado, on to the recipe.

Shepherds Pie

12" deep dish dutch oven


Ingredients:
3 lbs. of ground beef
1 lb. of country sausage (You can use mild, hot or regular country sausage or omit it)
1 package of dry onion soup mix
1 large package of frozen mixed vegtables (Or several bags of your favorite vegetables or use both).
1 1/2 lbs. of grated cheddar cheese
2 (26 oz) cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 medium sized onion chopped
1-2 teaspoon of chopped minced garlic
1-2 cans or bags of French fried onion rings
1-2 boxes of instant garlic mashed potatoes
2-3 teaspoons of hickory liquid smoke
dash of salt and pepper
Wearing rubber gloves mix hamburger, sausage, liquid smoke, onion mix, onion, minced garlic and salt and pepper together in a bowl.

Spray dutch oven with Pam. Press and pat hamburger-sausage mixture into the bottom of your dutch oven. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Drain off any grease with a laddle or tip dutch oven slightly on its side while holding the patty in place with a big flapjack turner.

Spread the cream of mushroom soup onto the entire hamburger patty.
Next layer your favorite frozen or fresh vegetables.
Then top with grated cheese.
Now spread the garlic mashed potatoes on top. 
If desired, sprinkle with cheese.
Then top with French fried onion rings.

Now put the lid on and cook at 350 degrees until the potatoes start to pull away from the side of the pan or dutch oven and start to turn golden brown....usually about 45 minutes.

To serve, use a large serving spoon to reach down through all the layers.


 Enjoy and keep your coals hot and your hearts warm.


The Finished Product




The Review

Oh the yummy taste of this dish! As you go from the taste of the hamburger, sausage, garlic and hickory smoke, all of those delicious flavors join together in one scrumpous bit along with those yummy vegetables, garlic potatoes and cheese. The more vegies the better. Our family will give this an A+. It is a very easy and a must try recipe. So why not try it tonight.
We Have a Guest Blogger This Week!

I've been lucky enough to find a guest blogger to fill in for me this week while I put my emotions back together after a major bombshell and spend some time with my mom and family.  Randy Patten, a.k.a. Dutch Oven Randy will be helping me out for the next few days.  I know you'll enjoy his posts and perspective on dutch oven cooking.

Randy and Arlana live in the town of Stockton, Utah. Stockton was a mining town in its early existence. Randy grew up in Provo,Utah and Arlana in Bountiful,Utah. Arlana has two blogs of her own: Sweet Sketch Wednesday and Sweet Berry Designs. Randy is a mechanic but his favorite pass time is Dutch Oven cooking. Randy's parents and scout leaders taught him how to use a dutch oven. Arlana learned how to use a dutch oven when her children were young and they would go camping. Randy always loves to try new recipes and adds his own personal touch to them thus making it his own recipe. Randy and Arlana have entered various chilli cook offs in Stockton and won first place in two events and second in the other. Recently they participated in the Stockton Days First Annual Dutch Oven Cook off where their son, Colton, took second place ... taking the glory from his parents. LOL

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 342: Chocolate Candy Cane Cake

Since I have a few minutes I thought I'd share the cake recipe I made last week.  I adapted it from a Cook's Country magazine.  It is written to be baked in three 8" cake pans but to make it using three 10" dutch ovens it should be increased by half.  I also increased the frosting by half.  My grocery store didn't carry Dutch process cocoa so I used regular baking cocoa.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
10" dutch oven

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs , room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream , room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease three 10" dutch ovens, then dust with cocoa powder and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water, chocolate and cocoa powder together until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until incorporated.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining chocolate mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.

Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pots, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pots on the counter to settle the batter. Bake at 350°the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20-25 minutes.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto wire racks. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before frosting, about 2 hours.

Frosting

1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks), softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4-3/4 cup heavy cream (Use enough to get the desired consistency)
8 ounces white chocolate , melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups finely ground peppermint candy
3 10-inch chocolate cake rounds 

With electric mixer, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed, scraping bowl once, until smooth, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and cream and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer half of frosting to clean bowl and stir in white chocolate. Add 3/4 cup ground peppermint candies to remaining frosting.

To assemble: Place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread half of peppermint frosting over cake. Repeat with second cake layer and remaining peppermint frosting. Top with final cake layer and frost top and sides with white chocolate frosting, reserving 3/4 cup for final garnish. Press remaining ground peppermint candies into sides of cake and sprinkle evenly over top of cake. Use remaining white chocolate frosting to pipe ring of dots around base of cake and pipe 6 rosettes on top of cake. Place 1 whole peppermint candy on each rosette.


The Finished Product


The Review
 
This was absolutely decadent!  It was rich and chocolaty.  All I could handle was 1 small slice.  I took it to a family Christmas party and it was a big hit.  No one could believe it came out of a dutch oven.  And yes, I was trying to show off just a little.  :)  I won't lie, this cake is a lot of work, but it is totally worth it.  You could never get such a tender, chocolaty cake from a box.  Grade A.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Apology

Let me apologize in advance for the next few days.  We just found out yesterday that my mom has cancer.  We only know that it is lymphoma but not how advanced it is.  So I'll be spending the next few days with my family and I'll make up the posts when I can.  Thanks for your understanding and any prayers you could send our way.  Love you all!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 341: BBQ Chicken Pasta with Bacon

Whew!  I've had a busy day already.  My hubby and I are in charge of our church's Christmas party tonight, so I've been trying to put that together.  Dinner for 175 people.  I'm glad I'm not doing all the cooking.  I love to cook, but that's ridiculous!  :)  Here is last night's dinner.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

BBQ Chicken Pasta with Bacon
12" dutch oven

1 pound penne or other short pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 pound bacon, chopped
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
1 red onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp.)
Green onions, bacon, and shredded cheese for garnish, if desired

Cook the bacon to a 12" dutch oven over a full spread of coals, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towel.  Add the chicken and red onion to the bacon grease in the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through and the onion is softened. Drain off any excess grease and stir in the reserved bacon, barbecue sauce and sour cream. Once mixed, add in the shredded cheese. Add pasta and stir to combine; heat through.  Serve immediately.  Serves 6-8

The Finished Product


The Review

This one had me at bacon.  Its actually an unusual combination of ingredients that I never would have come up with myself, but it was really good.  I liked the kick the red pepper flakes added.  Even my hubby said I could make it again which is the same as saying its the best pasta dish ever.  Sounds like an A to me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 340: Coca Cola Cake

I got this recipe from a cook book that was given to me by a reader.  Jan, who runs the Dairy Keen (a fabulous fast food restaruant in Heber City, Utah), gave it to me when I met her before the Wasatch County Fair cook off.  I've made several recipes out of it and its great.  But when I saw a recipe for Coca Cola Cake, I knew I needed to try it.  Coca Cola, the diet variety, is my drug of choice.  It's my morning coffee.  However, come January I'm afraid I'm giving it up.  Sigh.  But until then, I'm going to get it in any possible form.  :)

I also thought I'd give you a preview of what else I'll be cooking this month.  With it being Christmas, I thought I'd try some fun holiday recipes.  I'll be making a Chocolate Peppermint Layer Cake and Peppermint Raspberry Pots de Creme, so be sure to come back and check those out!

Coca-Cola Cake
12" dutch oven

Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
6 Tbs. cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup Coca-Cola

Frosting

1/2 cup butter
6 Tbs. Coca Cola
5 Tbs. cocoa
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 cup pecan pieces (optional)

For the Cake:  In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and flour together.  Place the butter, marshmallows, cocoa and Coke together in a small dutch oven over a full spread of coals.  Heat until the butter and marshmallows are melted, stirring often.  Pour melted mixture over the flour and sugar.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Add the beaten egg and mix well.  Add the baking soda to the buttermilk and pour into the batter mixture.  Add the vanilla and mix well.  Pour into a well greased 12" dutch oven and bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom. 

For the Frosting:  Place the butter, cocoa and Coke in a small dutch oven.  (I used the same pot I melted the marshmallows for the cake in.)  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Pour over the powdered sugar and beat until creamy and the consistency to be spread.  Add the pecans, if using.  Spread over warm, not hot, cake.  Serves 10-12.

The Finished Product



The Review

Talk about a moist cake.  It was really good and had just a hint of the Coke flavor.  My kids loved the little lines of air pockets that the carbonation left in the cake.  The whole family loved this.  Grade A.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 339: Fiesta Chicken Chowder

I made this soup for dinner last night.  I came together quickly which is great because its been chaos at our house lately.  I adapted this recipe from a Taste of Home magazine.

Fiesta Chicken Chowder
12" dutch oven

3 Tbs. flour
1 envelope fajita seasoning, divided
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups water
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz.) can rotel, undrained
1 (11 oz.) can mexicorn, drained
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1 (11 oz.) can nacho cheese soup
3 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. lime juice

In a large resealable bag, combine the flour and 2 Tbs. fajita seasoning.  Add the chicken and shake well to coat.  In a 12" dutch oven over a full spread of coals, saute the chicken in oil until juices run clear.  Remove and keep warm.  In the same pot, saute onion and garlic until the onion is tender.  Stir in the water, beans, tomatoes, corn, rice and remaining seasoning.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and move about 1/4 of the coals to the lid of the dutch oven and simmer until rice is tender.  Stir in the soup, cilantro, lime juice and chicken.  Heat thoroughly.  Serves about 10.

The Finished Product

The Review

I wasn't sure what to expect from this soup when I started making it.  But I know I didn't expect it to be as good as it was, especially considering it has canned soup in it.  It is spicy and cheesy and yummy.  Even my kids ate it and liked it.  It wasn't overly spicy which was great for my little ones.  I'll make this again.  Grade B+.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 338: Tres Leches Cake

I thought I'd do something new for Sunday dessert.  I've eaten tres leche cake, but never made it.  This recipe comes for the Southern Cakes cookbook.

Tres Leches Cake
10" dutch oven

Cake:


1 cup + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cups (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Three Milks:

1 cup milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 oz. melted chocolate or chocolate syrup (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir with a fork to mix.  In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat with a mixer at high speed to mix well.  Adds the eggs one at a time, beating well each time and stopping to scrape down the bowl now and then until the mixture is light, fluffy and smooth. Add the vanilla.  Add one third of the flour mixture and then half the milk, beating at low speed each time just until the flour or milk disappears into the batter. Add another third of the flour and the remaining milk, then the remaining flour in the same way.

Pour the batter into a well greased dutch oven and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes (mine took 40 mins), until the cake is golden brown, springs back when touched lightly in the center and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.   Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.

While the cake bakes, make the milk sauce. You want the cake to still be warm when you add the milk mixture.

Milk Sauce:

Combine the milk, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and the semisweet chocolate or chocolate syrup (if using) in a small dutch oven over a full spread of coals. Heat gently, stirring often until the mixture forms a smooth, steaming hot sauce. Do not let it come to a boil.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before using.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Poke holes with a toothpick all over the cake.  Slowly pour the warm milk sauce over the warm cake, in stages stopping to let the cake absorb the sauce before adding more. You may not need it all but you can add more later if you need it.

Let the cake stand at room temperature for one hour before covering and refrigerating. (I let it chill overnight, but a few hours is plenty). Top with cocoa whipped cream (recipe below) and serve it straight from the pan.

Cocoa Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

In a medium bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar and cocoa powder. Mix at medium speed til creamy and fluffy, but don't over beat or you'll be left with a curdled mess.

Top the cooled tres leches cake with the sweetened cocoa cream.

The Finished Product
 

 
The Review
 
This was really good!  The cake was so moist its ridiculous.  The whole family loved it.  Be sure to plan ahead and let it chill for a few hours.  We ate it warm, but it was better once it had chilled for a while.  If you want an easy dessert that is out of the ordinary, then try this!  Grade A.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 337: Tex Mex Rice

My Internet has finally quit throwing a fit and decided to get back to work.  Its one of the problems of living where I do...constant Internet problems.  I only have time for 1 post tonight, but I'll catch up tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience! 

I've been looking for the perfect Mexican rice recipe for a while now.  I think I've tried at least 4 different ones just this year.  But I think my search is over, at least temporarily

Tex Mex Rice
10" dutch oven

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 poblano or aneheim chile , seeded and chopped fine
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt

Process tomatoes in food processor until smooth; set aside. (I left a few chunk just because I like it that way)Place rice in fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl. Rinse under running water until water runs clear, about 1 minute. Drain rice well.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over a full spread of coals until shimmering. Add onion, poblano, and jalapeños and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir rice, cumin, and oregano into pot and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is deep golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add broth, processed tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Cover and move about 1/4 of the coals from the bottom to the top.  Simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and season with salt. Serves 6-8.

The Finished Product
 
 
 
The Review
 
For now, this is my favorite Mexican rice recipe.  It has great flavor and is perfect with any Mexican dish.  I may use the leftovers in burritos.  This isn't bland like so many of the recipes I've tried.  You could skip rinsing the rice, but it does make it fluffier.  This is my new favorite.  Grade A-.

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