Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Orange Rolls"/ Orange Monkey Bread

Are you looking for something easy, and "Spring-y" to serve this Easter? This might just be it. These are called "orange rolls" but if you ask me it should be called Orange Monkey Bread. It's a pull-apart bread that's made from biscuit dough and flavored with orange, butter and sugar. ("How bad could that be?" In the words of Ina Garten) I got this recipe from my church recipe book, and changed it just a bit. I made it a few weeks back for the hubby and the guys at the fire station, when my wonderful husband called and asked me to whip up a treat and bring it to the station (like he does so often). They all seemed to enjoy it and it was a snap to put together.
  Here's all you need:
2 cans of biscuit dough, butter, sugar, and oranges (juice and zest)
First thing's first, you want to break down the biscuit dough into smaller pieces. I used "Grands" biscuits and I broke each one in half, but I should have done them in quarters.

Then place the biscuit pieces evenly into a bundt pan.

When both cans of biscuits are used, the bundt pan should be filled. It looks like a pretty flour, doesn't it? :)

Next comes the orange glaze/sauce. Melted butter and sugar are added to a bowl.

Then the zest and juice of one orange are added. -You only want to add the orange part, not the bitter white.

This was how much zest I got from my orange. About 1 Tbsp? The measurement doesn't have to be precise. The more zest the more flavor.

After the orange is zested, just squeeze all the juice you can out of it. (Removing any seeds of course.)

Mix it all together and slowly pour it evenly over all the biscuit pieces.

When everything is covered (and all the sauce has been used), put it into a 350F oven for about 45 minutes. You'll need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too brown. If the top is browning faster than the inside is cooking, just cover it with foil.

When it's done it will rise above the bundt pan in all it's golden glory. Like this:

Flip it out onto a cake platter (or large plate) before it gets too cool. If it cools in the pan you won't be able to turn it out.

The last step is to drizzle it with an orange glaze. It's just powdered sugar, a splash of water and a touch of orange extract.  Make sure to cool the "rolls" slightly before putting on the glaze or it will all just run off.

Mine was still a little too hot, but I wanted to get it to the fire station while it was still warm. Aren't most things best warm out of the oven? I think so.
Here's the recipe:

"Orange Rolls"/Orange Monkey Bread

2 cans of refrigerator biscuits
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
about 1 Tbsp orange zest (zest of 1 to 2 oranges)
juice of two oranges (at least 1/2 cup)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp water (or melted butter) *if it's too thick, more water can be added
1/2 tsp orange extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut or break apart the biscuits into bite sized pieces (in halves or quarters). Place the biscuit pieces into a greased bundt pan. Combine the butter, sugar, orange zest and juice and pour the mixture evenly over the biscuit pieces. Bake for 30-40 minutes (until the biscuits in the middle are cooked through and the tops are browned). If it gets too brown, cover it with foil while baking. When it's done, turn it out onto a cake platter while it's still warm. Let it cool a little before drizzling on the glaze.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Awesome Pot Roast

Isn't it about time for me to post some "real food?" (Not that cookies and sweet treats aren't considered real food, because they are in my book.) I'm talking about some stick to your ribs, comfort food that is easy to boot? Well, this is that food. I make this pot roast when I'm having company over and don't have time to cook all day. It does it's thing in the crock-pot while I go about my day, taking care of what needs to get done.
   The meat is fall apart tender and has a flavor that can't be beat. I honestly never measure the ingredients I just dump and cook and it always turns out great. I did provide measurements for the recipe, but they are mostly guidelines. :) This is a variation on a recipe that I found on for Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast. With a couple of small tweaks it's a recipe that I have used (and will continue to use) time and time again.
   These are the main ingredients, besides the roast of course (and veggies too). If you don't like mushroom soup a good substitute would be cream of celery and french onion.

You start with a 7 bone chuck roast. Bones always lend more flavor, so if you can purchase a roast with the bone in you should. (FYI: They call it a "7 bone" because the bone is in the shape of a number 7.) Put the roast into the crock pot and sprinkle on the dry onion soup mix. (You can also stir in the dry mix with the other ingredients, but I feel like the meat gets more seasoning this way. I've done it both ways. Whichever you prefer is fine.)

In a mixing bowl, combine the two cans of soup and some Worcestershire sauce. (I just shake the bottle a few times. I guess it's about 2 Tbsp.)

Stir it all together until it's completely combined.

At the last minute I decided to add some garlic. About 2 or 3 cloves minced (2-3 tsp)

I put a dry bay leaf or two on top of the roast,

and then I pour on the soup mixture.

You'll also need to add 1 can of water. (Some people like to add this to the soup mixture before pouring on top and that is fine too. There really is no way to mess this recipe up.)

Nothing left to do but put the lid on top and set it to low for the rest of the day. The size of your roast will determine how long you need to cook for. A 5-6 lb roast will need about 8 -9 hours. Mine is larger (almost 8 lbs) so I cooked it around 11 hours.

If you are home, and you remember, you can turn the roast half way through cooking, but it's not essential. (This was my roast after 5 hours - I flipped it.)

After 8-9 hours you should be able to fish out the bones. - It's that tender. I also take this opportunity to remove any large pieces of fat. They've given all they need to at this point.

An hour before you want to serve, this is when you will add your veggies. I like a mixture of potatoes and carrots, but you can add what you like.

After 1 hour, the veggies should be tender. Just skim the fat off the top . . . 

and serve.  It might not be the prettiest meal but it is sure one of the tastiest. It always receives compliments.
So, take a load off. Put a roast in the crock pot and enjoy some good, home cookin' comfort food.

Here's the recipe:
adapted from Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Awesome Pot Roast

5 - 7 lb bone in chuck roast (7 bone if you can find it)
1 10 3/4 oz can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 10 3/4 can of condensed golden mushroom soup
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 can (about 1 1/4 cup) water
1 to 2 dry bay leaves
2 to 3 cloves of garlic minced (2-3 tsp)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Put the roast into the bottom of the crock pot. Sprinkle the onion soup mix on top and lay the bay leaf (leaves) on top. Mix together the soups, Worcestershire, garlic and water. Pour over the roast and cook on low for 8-9 hours. Remove any bones and large pieces of fat. Add you veggies of choice (optional), cut into bite sized chunks, and continue to cook on low for 1 more hour.  When the veggies and meat are tender, turn the crock pot off, skim the fat off the top of the "gravy" and serve immediately. **A great meal with my No Knead French Bread and a fresh salad.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

I have many guilty pleasures. This is one that I have enjoyed since I was a child. I used to go to my friends house where her grandma would make flour tortillas, fry them whole and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. My friend Jennifer and I would sneak into the kitchen and eat them just as fast as her grandma could make them. I can still hear her grandma yelling after us in Spanish. :)
  Now I make this treat for myself (and my kids of course) as often as my waistline will allow. It couldn't be simpler, and it tastes amazing - almost like a churro.
  All I do is put a little corn oil into a heavy pot (maybe 1/2 inch to 1 inch of oil) and let it get hot. While the oil is heating up I cut some flour tortillas into triangles (like a pizza). Sometimes, if I'm being good I'll just fry up one tortilla. But on nights like tonight, I'll go ahead and do 5 or more. ;)
   When the oil is hot I turn the oil down to medium and then start dropping in the tortilla triangles. I only fry about 5 triangles at a time, because I use a small pot. You just want to make sure that you don't crowd the pan, and that each triangle gets it's own space. While the first side cooks (which only takes a minute or less) I put some paper towel on a plate and get my cinnamon sugar out. (I keep a syrup dispenser on hand with pre-made cinnamon sugar for occasions such as these.)
   When the edges of the tortillas start to turn brown I use a pair of tongs to turn each triangle over. The second side will cook even faster, so keep an eye on it! When both sides are browned to your liking, remove the triangles and place them on the paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, on both sides, and then drop some more triangles into the oil. The longer you fry the hotter the oil will get, so you might need to turn the oil down to medium low. Just keep an eye on it. The darker you fry your chips the crispier they will be. The lighter they are the more "crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle" they will be. I like I mixture of both textures, but you make them how you like them.
  That's all there is to it. No rocket science, just three ingredients and a few minutes to a cinnamon sugar indulgence.
  There's no real "recipe" here, but I'll list it anyway. :)

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

flour tortillas
corn oil
cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup to 1/2 cup white sugar mixed with 1 Tbsp cinnamon, it's "to taste"  - you won't use all of it.)

Heat 1/2 inch of corn oil in a heavy pot, over high heat on the stove. Cut the tortillas into triangles and set aside. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. When the oil is hot, turn the heat down to medium and gently drop in a few triangles, in a single layer, to fry. Don't crowd the pan. Watch them carefully, because they will burn quickly. When the edges start to brown, turn each triangle over (using a pair of tongs) and continue frying until the second side is brown. Remove the triangles (using the tongs) and place onto the paper towel lined plate. Immediately sprinkle both sides of each triangle with the cinnamon sugar. Repeat the process with all the "raw" tortilla triangles. Can be enjoyed alone or as an accompaniment to fresh fruit salsa or ice cream.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Coconut Oatmeal Chewies

Hi. My name is _______ and I have a cookie addiction. You laugh, but this is a serious thing! I grew up only knowing a few scrumptious cookie delights (i.e. chocolate chip, peanut butter and my grandma's snickerdoodles). My world has since been opened up to an endless number of tempting creations. (i.e. Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate ChipDouble (and Triple) Chocolate Cookies, Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Lemon Crinkle Cookies, Nutella Crinkle Cookies, Cookies and Cream, Malted Milk Chocolate Chip, and the list goes on and on. I dream about cookies. I eat cookies almost every night before I go to bed, and I wake up thinking about which kind I'll make that day. Yes, I have a cookie addiction. It's a long hard road, but I'm learning to live with it successfully in my size 2 jeans (depending on the store of course). I'm taking it "one day at a time." And if I have to be addicted to something (besides chocolate, but that's another story) I'm o.k. with it being cookies. :) On that note, I have another beautifully chewy and delectable cookie variety to share with you today. Coconut Oatmeal Chewies.
   This is my adoring husband's favorite cookie. I have to say, it's one of mine too - even though it is devoid of chocolate (gasp!). It's a variation of a recipe I discovered online from The Dough Will Rise Again. The cookies she pictured are really flat, whereas mine bake up more poofy (is that a word?). Oddly enough, though, when I bake them from frozen they end up being flat too. I'm not sure what the reason is, but it doesn't matter - if you like coconut and chewy cookies you are going to LOVE these!
   Hold my hand as I show you one of the many reasons for my cookie addiction. (I'm so excited! These really are amazing.)

Like most cookies, it starts with butter. 2 sticks, or 1 cup (or if you buy your butter in bulk from Costco like me, then it's 1/2 of one of the bricks). Softened.

Brown sugar,

and white sugar are added and blended together.

1 egg is added and then mixed again.

A second egg is added and everything is mixed again. (Seeing a pattern?)

Next come the flavorings. Some pure vanilla extract,

and some coconut extract. (I haven't been able to find any "pure" coconut extract, but the imitation works very well.)

Baking soda,

baking powder,

and salt are added to the mixed, and everything is blended well.

Next come the oats. Most people add these at the end, but I never feel like they get fully incorporated that way, so I add them earlier.

The coconut is added also.

When the oats and coconut are mixed in well, then I add the flour.

Adding a little at a time until it's all mixed in.

When it comes together it will look something like this:

Nothing left to do now but scoop and bake. (I usually make my cookies at night, so pardon the shadows. The fluorescent kitchen lights aren't the best for photography.) I like to use my smallest scoop for cookies. It's about 1 1/4 inch across. The cookies bake to about 2 1/2 inches across.

Make sure to give them a couple inches to spread out when baking.

After 8-10 minutes (depending on your oven) they will look something like this. The edges will be just lightly browned.

Of course, I can't have an entire recipe's worth of cookies baked up and waiting to be devoured, so I always just bake one batch (which I usually eat in it's entirety) and then I scoop and freeze the rest. I just scoop them out onto a plate or cookie sheet and then put them in the freezer. When they are rock solid I put them into labeled freezer zip-lock bags for later consumption. I like doing it this way because I can bake up as little or as much as I'd like. Just the other night I had some family over for dinner and I baked cookies from my freezer stash. It only took 10 minutes (the oven was warm from dinner) and I served 4 varieties (these Coconut Oatmeal Chewies, my Triple Chocolate Chip cookies - with semi sweet and white chocolate chips -, my Lemon Crinkle Cookies, and my Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies). It's was great having such a variety and having it done so fast.

These are the cookies in their deserved sunlight, aren't they beautiful?

Don't you just want to take a bite?

The coconut is calling you. . . . It's calling me too. I think I'll go answer!
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chewies

Coconut Oatmeal Chewies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the extracts, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix well. Add the oats, and shredded coconut. Mix to combine. Add the flour, a little at a time until it's mixed thoroughly. Scoop onto a parchment (or silpat) lined cookie sheet. Place 2 inches apart and cook 8-10 minutes. (The edges should just be just slightly browned.) Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving.