Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grandma G's Cheese Strata

Strata is something that I was not familiar with until now...
One of Husband's family Christmas traditions is Grandma G's Cheese Strata
So being the good wife I am {he he shameless pat on the back} I called my sister-in-law & got Grandma G's Recipe.

The Deets
8-12 Slices of White Bread 
1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar
1/2 Cup Swiss Cheese
5 Eggs
2 Cups Milk
1 tsp Seasoned Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt

In buttered casserole dish alternate layers of bread & cheese
Combine remaining ingredients in bowl & mix until smooth
Pour over Bread & Cheese
Cover & place in fridge overnight
Place in larger dish of water  
Bake at 325 for 55 minutes
And that is Gramma G's Cheese Strata. Enjoy. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Scandinavian Christmas Kringler

One of the Traditional Christmas dishes my family has is my Dad's Scandinavian Kringler which he makes every Christmas.  This year was the very first year of my life that I did not spend Christmas with my parents, as such, it was up to me to make the Kringler.

As I've stated before I'm still trying to figure out this non-high altitude baking...so I am going to use that as my excuse for now.  Though the Kringler wasn't as good as dad's it wasn't too bad & next year I'll know the tricks to making it just right...if a voyage to the home land isn't in the plan...

Anyway, Christmas Kringler is a three part pastry. First there is a crust layer, then a puff layer & then the oh so important icing.

1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Butter
2 TBS Ice Water

Mix Flour & Butter until crumbly, then add water & mix.  This is one recipe where I mix everything by hand & give my trusty Kitchenaid a break. Divide Dough in 1/2 on a cookie sheet and press into two 5 inch rows.  
Puff Layer
1 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Flour
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Mix Butter & Water in pan on stove & bring to a boil. Add Flour, Eggs & Almond Extract, cook until fluffy.  Beat until Smooth.  Spread on Crust Layer.
Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes. {Note - I think next time I will bake it at 375 at low altitude}

1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 TBS Butter
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
2 TBS Milk

Mix Icing & spread on cooled Kringler, sprinkle with sliced almonds & enjoy.

Merry Christmas to you & yours!  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homemade Baked Potato Chips

In case you haven't heard the head of the Washington State Potato Commission recently finished a 60 day all potato diet.  Shockingly he lost 21 pounds & his cholesterol dropped 67 points!  You can read more about his diet here.  I don't like potatoes that much, but I am a big fan of the little root-veggies.

As you know potatoes are constantly being attacked as junk & not a vegetable on a regular basis even though they are actually quite healthy (hence Mr. Washington's potato diet) because most people only eat them in some sort of fried manner...potato chips, french fries, hashbrowns...

The way I see it, if it grows from the ground & you eat it in whole form it can't be bad for you - so long as you remember that little thing about moderation & don't deep fry it to oblivion.

Anyway, I've been on a potato kick lately.  Fingerlings, baby reds, purple passions, yukon gold, sweets & even the classic russet.  The other night we were having paninis with our good friends (another post on that later) & I felt like having some chips...which we don't usually keep in our house.  So I decided to try my hand at making homemade baked potato chips.

They are super simple.  Just thinly slice up your favorite potatoes - we used russets, sweets, baby reds & purple passions.
As you can see My slices aren't very uniform. This created various textures in the finished product.
Next rinse the potatoes in warm water.  Pat dry with a paper towel & lay on baking sheets (I recommend Williams-Sonoma Gold).  Spray with cooking spray - I used Pam Olive Oil Spray.  Bake for 15 minutes, then switch the pans from top to bottom rack so that both sides get crispy & bake another 15 minutes. {Time may very based on thickness of potatoes}

Sprinkle with Sea Salt & enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Banana Bread

Banana Bread is one of those perfect treats on a cold day.  

It's sweet, it's bread and it has fruit in it, so you don't have to feel bad about eating it, even if it is loaded with chocolate. Plus you can add flax or nuts for a little more of a health kick.
I started experimenting with banana bread recipes back in college, my friends enjoyed countless trial runs of various recipes, even after I came up with "the one".  But no matter how many things I add, take away or mess with the ratios,  this is the best one I've come up with, I always come back to it.  I think it's perfect.  Let me know what you think.

The Deets
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Milk
4 - 5 Bananas (I prefer to freeze mine & then thaw them out when it's baking time)
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Flax Seeds

Mix Wet Ingredients 
Add Bananas & Mix Well
Add Flour, Backing Soda & Salt
Add ChocoChips & Flax Seeds
Heat Oven to 350 Degrees

I'm a big fan of the mini loaves.  
This recipe will make 4 minis or one normal loaf of Banana Bread
For the minis bake @ 350 for 35 minutes
For the normal loaf bake @350 for 50 - 55 minutes or until toothpick pulls out clean.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The McRib: a $3.00 Trip Down Memory Lane

If you haven't heard, the McRib is back.
Now, as I'm sure you know by now, I am not a fast food type of girl & I haven't eaten at McDonalds in years. But, when I heard they were bringing the McRib back, my interest was peaked.  I have fond memories of the McRib as a kid, even though I'm sure that I only had a McRib once or twice in my life.

So after a long day of work, followed by a long night running errands I decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane.  I called Husband & told him my plan, the conversation went something like this:
Me: I'm going to stop & McDonalds to get a McRib do you want anything?
Husband: Really? You're going to McDonalds?
Me: Yes, I'm sure I'll eat like 3 bites & throw it away, but I've got to see if it's as good as I remember.
Husband: Hmmm this is a bad idea
Me: I know, but I just have to try it.
Husband: laughing, ok. 

So I pulled into the McDonalds' drive through & ordered a McRib, then was confused by the whole 2 window set up (yup it's been so long that I didn't even know how to go through a drive through!)  The 12 year old behind the window looked at me like I was retarded & explained the process. It was pretty embarrassing.

Anyway, at the second window I was handed a paper bag that contained the oh so anticipated McRib.  I must say it smelled fantastic, so much so that the 15 minute drive home was a bit torturous & I'm pretty sure I was salivating for the last 5 minutes.  Ridiculous I know.
This is what was waiting for me after the long drive home.
Yup, that's pressed reconstituted mystery meat, BBQ sauce, pickles & onions on a bun, or as Tim McGraw would say "Another supper from a sack, a 99 cent heart attack"
The First Bite was ok, the edge was a bit firmer & immediate flavor wasn't too bad.  But bites 2 & 3 were like eating already been chewed meat stuffs & the nasty aftertaste already crept in, plus raw onions are on my no-no list.  3 bites & to the trash it went, just as expected.

The best part was that no one believed me when I told them I tried the McRib!  No offense to Micky-Ds but I plan on going another 5 years or so before trying their delectable cuisine again.  The trip down memory lane was worth the $3.00, but the tummy ache that came with was not worth it.  

This is what I made after having my Third & Final Bite in an attempt to make peace with my tummy:
Grilled Asparagus & Mushrooms, yummy!

Next time the McRib comes around, I'll have documentation & an adult memory to keep me away.  But hey, that just means more McRib for all you fanatics out there! Enjoy your ABC Pressed mystery meat sandwich.