Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chicken 'n Dumplings with Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

I grew up in California; my husband grew up in Tennessee. So, I didn't have my first chicken 'n dumplings until after we met and were visiting his parents in Chattanooga. Nothing is more comforting than some good southern cooking! Turns out the recipe is really simple; it may become one of my go to meals when I get home from work late and don't really feel like slaving away in the kitchen :) The recipe is from my mother-in-law, modified off of the recipe found on the Bisquick box. Instead of mounds of dumplings, the dough gets rolled into thin strips. Unfortunately the dish doesn't have a lot of color, so it doesn't photograph too well, but I promise it tastes much better than it looks in my pictures :)

To save time, you can throw the chicken breasts in the slow cooker and leave it on low for 6-8 hours while you're at work, so the chicken will be ready when you get home. That's what I did today, except I simply cooked it on low for 2 hours while we were at church and the chicken was fully cooked by the time we got home. I'm sure it would be more tender if left in the slow cooker all day...

The recipe for the cheesy garlic biscuits has been floating around the What's Cooking Board for a few weeks now; I think MrsBowen originally posted it. The version I used is from Laney's blog, but the original source isn't cited so if you know where the recipe came from, please let me know. The biscuits don't taste exactly like the Red Lobster Biscuits, but they are to die for! I've already had three since they came out of the oven ;)

*Update: Thanks to Jessica for showing me the original recipe for the biscuits from Bisquick (linked below)

Chicken 'n Dumplings
dumplings recipe from Bisquick
method modified by Joan Presley

2 chicken breasts
1-1/3 cup Bisquick mix
6 tbsp skim milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil chicken breasts in salted water (just enough to cover the chicken) until done, approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour (I cooked mine in the slow cooker on low for 2 hrs). Remove the chicken, and set the water aside for later use. Shred the chicken (using 2 forks works really well), or cut into small pieces.

Heat the reserved chicken broth until just barely boiling.

While the broth is heating up, stir the Bisquick mix and milk together until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough out to approximately 1/8" thickness. Cut into strips and add a few at a time to the reserved chicken broth. After they are all added, continue to cook on low for 5 minutes or until the dumplings are done. Add the chicken back to the dumplings, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits (aka Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits)
from Laney's Goodies (original recipe from Bisquick)

2 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 cup butter - melted

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Combine first 3 ingredients until moist. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden.

While the biscuits are baking, mix melted butter, parsley and garlic.

Pour over hot biscuits and serve.

Makes 8-10 biscuits.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Key Lime Coconut Blondies

This is yet another great recipe from Peabody :) I first tried this recipe a few weeks ago; however, I didn't have any key limes on hand so I used Persian limes instead. The result was a delectable coconut blondie with just a very subtle hint of lime. These blondies are heavenly while they are still warm! I loved them so much that I made them twice in the same week when I first tried them! The second time I made them, I tried adding 4 tablespoons of lime juice, figuring that I might need to add more if I was using Persian limes instead of key limes. To my disappointment, it didn't really change the flavor too much.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I bought key limes this week... I could finally try this recipe with the original ingredients! :) The flavor is definitely better using key limes, but it's still very subtle.

Key Lime Coconut Blondies

from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3 TBSP key lime juice
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9×9x2-inch metal baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil over sides by 2 inches. Butter and flour foil. Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then key lime juice. Add flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in shredded coconut. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake dessert until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes (Mine took 45 minutes to cook).

Cool completely in pan on rack. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Decorate with melted white chocolate if desired. Cut into 16 squares and serve.

Makes 16 blondies.

Adapted from a raspberry and pecan blondie recipe on

World's Best Lasagna

I finally did it! We got our KitchenAid Mixer back in April, and with it came a mail-in rebate for either a pasta roller/fettuccine cutter set, or an ice cream maker attachment. I thought long and hard about which attachment I wanted, but in the end I chose the pasta maker thinking I would use it more often than the ice cream maker. Well, it didn't take very long for KitchenAid to send me the attachment; however, it has been sitting in my kitchen, waiting to be used, for months now. Part of me was scared to use it... making pasta just sounded so complicated. The only thing I am more afraid of is working with yeast! :)

So today I decided to make some homemade lasagna... completely from scratch, including the sauce and the pasta noodles. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and using the pasta roller was really fun! :) Now that I've tackled pasta making, my next goal is to successfully work with yeast and make some yummy cinnamon bread that I've been wanting to try.

The lasagna recipe is from, and while I wouldn't necessarily call it the 'World's Best,' it was still really really good. The blend of spices/herbs was good; next time I will add some fresh basil as well. I think this recipe might be good with some zucchini thrown in too. You can also just make the sauce as a pasta sauce.

A big thank you to Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for the homemade pasta recipe :) Kneading the dough was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. Next time I make pasta, I may try the recipe that came with the KitchenAid attachment (which uses the mixer and requires less kneading) and see if there is much of a difference...

World's Best Lasagna

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used 4)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used 4 tsp dried parsley)
12 lasagna noodles (recipe for homemade noodles below)
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tsp), pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley (I used 2 tsp dried). Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt (I also added a pinch of nutmeg).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

To assemble, spread 1-1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1-1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

(This recipe makes enough to use 2 cups of meat sauce for each layer... I found that 1-1/2 cups did not cover the entire baking dish. I layered according to the recipe instructions, with a slight modification. I made mine the following way: meat sauce-noodles-ricotta-mozzarella-meat sauce-parmesan-noodles-ricotta-mozzarella-meat sauce-noodles-meat sauce-parmesan-mozzarella-parmesam)

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Homemade Pasta
from Cream Puffs in Venice

2 cups of all-purpose flour (use unbleached if you can find it), plus more for rolling out the pasta (The amount of flour required will depend on the size of your eggs, humidity, etc. I probably used closer to 2-1/2 to 3 cups of flour.)

4 large eggs

Place the flour on a work surface. Pile the flour into a hill, and then make a valley in the centre, wide enough to hold the 4 eggs.

Carefully put the eggs into the valley you’ve created in the flour.

With a fork, begin beating the eggs (gently) and slowly incorporating the flour.

Once you have incorporated as much flour as you can with the fork, begin working the flour/egg mixture with your hands.

If the mixture feels too wet, add a bit more flour keeping in mind that it’s easier to add flour than it is to deal with dough that has too much flour in it.

Once the mixture comes together in a ball, and no longer sticks to the counter, you are ready to begin kneading.

Flour your work surface and begin kneading by pushing forward on the dough with the heel of your hand. Fold the dough in half and then repeat the pushing forward motion. Fold the dough in half again. Keep repeating this step. Every time you fold the dough in half, turn your dough slightly either to the right or left. Keep pushing forward, folding and turning.

Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it has become smooth and soft. If at any time your dough becomes sticky, sprinkle some more flour on your work surface.

Once you have completed kneading your dough, you are ready to put it through the pasta machine.

Cut the ball of dough into small portions, 6 or 8 equal parts.

Spread towels on a nearby surface so that you can lay the pasta sheets down as you complete them.

Beginning on the lowest setting for the thinning rollers, flatten out your portion of dough slightly, brush on some flour, and put it through the thinners. Fold the dough in half and put it through the thinner again. Repeat this step two or three times until you have a fairly smooth, flattened piece of dough.

Move the setting for the thinning rollers up a notch. Pass the dough through the thinners. Fold the dough and pass it through again. Repeat this step two or three times.

Repeating the basic rolling steps, continue to thin the pasta by working your way up to the thinnest setting. Once this is done, lay the pasta sheet on the cloth. If your pasta sheet gets too long, cut it in half.

Once you have prepared all the pasta sheets, let the pasta dry for about 10 minutes. Lay the pasta on a sheet or tray.

If you’re not going to use the tajarin right away, cover with a cloth and set aside.

For lasagna noodles: With a sharp knife, cut the pasta sheets into pieces approximately 3 x 6.5" (for use in a 13 x 9" baking dish). Alternatively, you can cut 4.5 x 13" pieces and use 2 sheets per lasagna layer.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Key Lime Cookies

This was actually my first time baking with key limes. I've made plenty of key lime recipes in the past, however I've always substituted Persian limes because that's what I had on hand. Aside from being smaller and having thinner rinds, key limes are usually more tart than Persian limes. When shopping for key limes, note that the ripe ones are more yellow than green. The usual trick of checking to see which ones are most fragrant will also help you pick out the best ones.

During my most recent grocery run, I finally decided to purchase a bag of key limes to bake with :) For anyone wondering how many limes they need for a particular recipe, my 1 lb bag produced approximately 1-1/8 cup of juice.

These cookies taste like little mini key lime pies, due to the key lime curd found in the middle. The curd is rich, but its tartness is more noticeable than anything else. You can use the curd for a variety of different things; you can find a few recipe ideas here. I had never made a curd before, so I wasn't sure how I would know when it was 'done.' Be patient... you will notice the sauce slowly thicken as you mix it and then suddenly it will become creamy (it should be thick and slow to fall off the back of a spoon).

Key Lime Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup key lime juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups prepared key lime curd, recipe below
1 cup powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and the lime juice, and mix well.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to butter mixture until incorporated. Dough should be stiff but not dry. Shape into 1-inch balls, press thumb into center of balls to make an indentation, being careful not to press through to the bottom. Fill indentations with about 1 tablespoon Key lime curd.

Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Key Lime Curd

3 eggs
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup key lime juice
1 tsp key lime zest

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining ingredients (I added the eggs last, and tempered them slowly to avoid curdling), whisking continuously, for approximately 8-10 minutes or until it becomes a custard. Remove from heat and continue whisking for another 1-2 minutes.

Allow to cool and then pour into a jar and refrigerate. The curd will thicken considerably as it cools. Makes approximately 2 cups.

Skinny Chimichangas

I got this recipe from my friend Laura. It's from a Weight Watcher's book, but I'm not sure which one. Traditionally, chimichangas are meaty deep-fried burritos. This low fat version is really simple, and you still end up with a great tasting, crispy burrito. We usually buy lean ground beef in bulk at Sam's Club, so I just use that in place of the ground turkey, but you can use whichever you'd prefer.

Skinny Chimichangas
from Weight Watcher's

½ pound ground skinless turkey breast
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chopped mild green chiles (I never have chiles on hand, so I usually substitute 1 tbsp Sambal Oelek Chili Paste)
⅓ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a nonstick baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside.

Spray a medium nonstick skillet with nonstick spray; set over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Cook, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon until browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and the chiles; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the flavors are blended and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar.

Meanwhile, wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven to warm for 10 minutes. Spoon about ½ cup of the filling into the center of each tortilla.

Fold in the sides, then roll to enclose the filling. Place the chimichangas, seam-side down, on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the tops of the tortillas with nonstick spray. Bake until golden and crisp, about 20 minutes. Do not turn. You can top these chimichangas with your favorite salsa and 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream.

Nutrition Information Per Serving (1 chimichanga)
241 Calories
2g Fat
1g Sat. Fat
46mg Cholesterol
613mg Sodium
34g Carbohydrates
3g Fiber
22g Protein
184mg Calcium (makes 4 servings)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

This is a quick, simple dinner idea. It's quite popular on the What's Cooking Board. I usually serve it with a side of pasta and marinara sauce, but tonight we had it with some leftover Baked Garlic Rice. The recipe below is written out to create 2 servings, but you can easily change the proportions on the website if needed (the original recipe serves 8).

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2 cloves)
3 tbsp dry bread crumbs (I used Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs and omitted the seasonings below)
1/8 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 tbsp shredded Cheddar cheese
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.

In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.

Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.

Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Chocolate Raspberry Streusel Squares

I love the combination of chocolate and raspberry. I make these bars all the time -- the recipe is very simple and you can throw it together in no time! I don't care for nuts, so I usually omit the almonds. If I'm not in the mood for chocolate, I'll omit the chocolate chips as well, and they still turn out great :)

Chocolate Raspberry Streusel Squares

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, chilled and cut into pieces
3/4 cup raspberry preserves or jam (about 10 oz.)
1 cup (6 oz.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/4 cup chopped almonds (optional)
1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, melted (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, oats, sugars, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 1 cup oat mixture for streusel. Press remaining oat mixture onto bottom of ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. (I used a 9" pan and reserved 1-1/4 cup.)

BAKE for 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack.

SPREAD preserves evenly over hot crust to within 1/2 inch of edges (if you get too close to the edges, the preserves will burn and your bars will be harder to remove from the pan). Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup morsels. Combine reserved oat mixture and almonds, if desired; sprinkle over morsels, patting gently.

BAKE for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. Let chocolate set before cutting into squares. Store tightly covered.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lemon Garlic Tilapia with Baked Garlic Rice

My husband doesn't care much for fish in general, but we're trying to be healthy and eat more fish. This is a very simple white fish recipe that I found on that he actually likes :) I followed the recipe, but made minor modifications in the quantity of each ingredient to suit our tastes. Unfortunately, this time around I accidentally let the garlic cook too long in the butter, causing it to brown, but it still tasted great!

The rice recipe is from Jessica's blog, What's Cooking in the Orange Kitchen? The garlic infuses the rice with a nice, subtle flavor. I can't even begin to describe how wonderful the house begins to smell as it bakes... the only thing that smells better is roasted garlic! :)

Lemon Garlic Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used 4 tbsp)
1 tbsp butter (I used 2 tbsp)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped (I used 6 - love garlic!)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
pepper to taste (I seasoned with salt as well)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (I set my oven to 400 degrees F). Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a pan, melt the butter and sauté the garlic and parsley on low heat. While the garlic is cooking, rinse tilapia fillets under cool water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place fillets in baking dish and season with pepper (and salt). Pour lemon juice over fillets.

Drizzle garlic butter over the fish.

Bake in preheated oven until the fish is white and flakes when pulled apart with a fork, about 15 minutes. (I baked mine for 25-30 minutes.)

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf
from What's Cooking in the Orange Kitchen?

2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, crushed (I used 4 cloves - love garlic!)
1 cup long-grain white rice (I used what we had on hand, jasmine rice)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat butter in a skillet; add garlic and rice and cook until both are golden brown. (I cooked mine over low/medium heat.) Add 1 cup of broth and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and pour into a covered casserole; bake for 25 minutes.

Stir in remaining 1-1/2 cups broth; cook for another 45 minutes. This recipe can be doubled without increasing the cooking time.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Better Than Sex Cake

Ok, so I admit this isn't the most 'gourmet' cake out there... but it's great if you need to make a dessert in a pinch. I brought it into work for someone's birthday and they said it was the best cake they have ever had :)

This cake reminds me of Tres Leches (a Mexican dessert) in which a cake is soaked in a mixture of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream. This cake is immersed in a rich caramel/condensed milk sauce instead. I had run out of eggs, but had some egg whites leftover from the Chocolate Crème brûlée I had made, so I took this opportunity to also try out the 'diet Coke cake' recipe that's always being talked about on the What's Cooking Board. Basically you can take any type of boxed cake mix and combine it with any diet soda (12 oz) and you end up with a relatively low fat cake! Just make sure that you use light colored sodas with light cake mixes and dark colored sodas with dark cake mixes. You can also add a few egg whites to the mix if desired. The cake turned out great, and you would never know that it was made with diet soda unless someone told you! Granted, this dessert isn't by any means low fat due to the sauce and toppings you put on it, but I just wanted to share the diet Coke recipe here for those who haven't heard about it :)

You'll find several different variations of this recipe on Most call for a container of whipped topping, i.e. Cool Whip, however homemade whipped cream is so easy to make (and tastes so much better) so I made that substitution. I originally wanted to make my own caramel sauce for this cake too; however, I made it on a weeknight and didn't get home until late so I'll have to try that next time...

Better Than Sex Cake
modified from

1 Box of Chocolate Cake Mix (I used German Chocolate Cake Mix)
12 ounce Bag Semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounce Jar Caramel Sauce
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed*
1 cup Heath Bar Bits 'o Brickle

* I made homemade whipped cream instead: add 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract to 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Whip on medium/high until soft peaks form (do not over whip the cream)

Prepare cake mix as directed on box. (Instead of adding oil and eggs as directed, I simply added one 12 oz can of diet Coke and 2 egg whites.) Add half of the chocolate chips and stir until well incorporated. Pour into 13 x 9" cake pan and top with remaining chocolate chips. Bake as directed on box.

While the cake is baking, mix the caramel and condensed milk together in a medium bowl.

When the cake is done, remove from oven and poke holes in the cake with a straw or chopstick (I used a toothpick to create smaller holes.) Pour the caramel mixture over the top and let the cake cool completely. Top with whipped topping and toffee bits. Refrigerate before serving.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quiche Lorraine

I'm weird about eggs. I hate the smell of hard boiled eggs. For the most part, I don't like to eat eggs. I will, however, eat eggs if they are scrambled! I can't eat them plain, though. Aside from seasoning them with the usual salt & pepper... I'm one of those people who eats their scrambled eggs with ketchup *gasp*

Seeing as a quiche is basically a fancy French version of scrambled eggs, I do enjoy quiches :) This was my first homemade quiche. I first got the idea after receiving an email from I subscribe to their "Daily Dish" emails and the recipe for Monday September 17th was "Quick Quiche." The recipe caught my attention and gave me a craving for quiche. I may one day try that recipe; however, tonight I had some pie crust in the fridge that I wanted to use so I searched Allrecipes to find a quiche recipe worth trying.

That's how I stumbled across this recipe for Quiche Lorraine. It's a great basic quiche recipe, and as you can see from all the reviews, it can be modified in a variety of ways to suit your taste. Many reviewers seem to use half & half instead of milk to make it richer; however, this quiche already has enough fat it in so I did not try that but simply used skim milk. Others added ingredients such as ham, broccoli, spinach, etc. The possibilities with this quiche are endless; however, I do have to say that it is delicious as is. The bacon and onion give it an excellent flavor.

One small side note -- the original Quiche Lorraine recipe calls for heavy cream, and does not include cheese; and the addition of onion to the dish makes it quiche alsacienne. Whatever you want to call this dish, I can guarantee you'll be going back for seconds :)

Based on the many reviews on the website, I made several modifications to the recipe, noted below in red.

Quiche Lorraine

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie (I used a Pillsbury pie crust)
6 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped (1 small onion was plenty; if you don't love onion, I would use 1/2 onion)
3 eggs, beaten (I used 4 eggs)
1-1/2 cup milk (I used 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1/8 tsp garlic salt - the bacon adds enough saltiness to this dish)
1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (I used 2 cups of a shredded cheddar & monterey jack cheese blend)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (I set my oven to 350 F).

Line pastry with a double layer of aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until crust is set. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). (I simply unrolled my pre-made pie crust and placed it in an ungreased 9-inch pyrex pie pan and baked at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes until the crust was just barely golden.)

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon grease in skillet. Cook onion in reserved drippings until tender; drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk and salt. Stir in bacon and onion. In a separate bowl, toss cheese and flour together. Add cheese to egg mixture; stir well. Pour mixture into hot pastry shell.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes (I baked mine at 350 F for 55 minutes), or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edges of crust with foil to prevent burning (I used a pie crust shield). Let quiche cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chocolate Crème Brûlée

The name Crème Brûlée means "burnt creme" in French. It consists of a rich custard base topped with a layer of caramelized sugar.

The classic vanilla crème brûlée, topped with fresh berries, is delicious. However, my favorite is chocolate crème brûlée. I simply take 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and chop them up and add them to the cream to create this decadent dessert.

The recipe is very simple, but the most important step is when adding the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture. You have to add the hot cream very slowly to the egg mixture (called tempering), or else you will end up with chunks of scrambled egg. The original recipe is from, and you'll read in the reviews that several people ran the end product through a sieve to remove any lumps from the mixture... that step is completely unnecessary as long as you successfully temper the eggs.

This is a great recipe to use when entertaining. It's something most people only enjoy when dining out, and is so simple to make. The chocolate version isn't as pretty as the vanilla (you can't really see the caramelized sugar layer), but I promise that the rich chocolate custard is to die for! :)

Chocolate Crème Brûlée
modified from

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, finely chopped (simply omit the chocolate if you want to make the classic vanilla crème brûlée)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks (based on posted reviews, I always use 4 yolks and find the texture of the custard better this way)
4 tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line the bottom of a large baking pan with a damp kitchen cloth. (I usually omit the cloth.)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. While water is boiling, combine cream, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and chocolate in saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally for 4 to 5 minutes, until steam starts to rise and chocolate is completely melted.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Pour hot cream into yolks, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until all the cream is incorporated. Pour mixture into four 6 oz. ramekins.

Place ramekins on towel in baking pan, and place dish on oven rack. Pour boiling water into the pan to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover entire pan loosely with foil.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until custard is just set. (I find that it always takes 50-60 minutes, depending on the oven, before it is set.) Chill ramekins in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.

Before serving, sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar over each custard. Use a kitchen torch or oven broiler to brown the tops, 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I'm not a big pizza eater, but from time to time, I will crave pizza. My favorites include Supreme, Thai Chicken, Caprese, and BBQ Chicken. I had never made my own pizza at home, but one day I was inspired to re-create one of my favorites -- the BBQ Chicken Pizza. It was fairly simple to throw together, and after it turned out so well, I wondered why I hadn't tried making it myself sooner :) I make it regularly now, and we rarely have any leftovers :)

We like everything spicy, so I always add either some chili paste or crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce! Occasionally I will top it with sliced jalapenos instead, but I rarely have those on hand. Eventually, I'd like to try this recipe with some homemade pizza dough, but we'll save that for another day, after I'm brave enough to bake with yeast ;)

I admit that today I was in a bit of a rush, so I only sautéed the onions until translucent and cooked through; I did not fully caramelize them. This isn't a pizza that photographs very well, but I promise it tastes much better than it looks!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
from my own kitchen!

1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 red onion, sliced (I only had yellow onions on hand today, which was fine)
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I typically use KC Masterpiece, but have been meaning to try Sweet Baby Ray's)
2 tsp honey
1/2 to 1 tsp Sambal Oelek chili paste, or crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
store bought pizza dough, i.e. Pillsbury
1 to 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, boiled and diced/shredded
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté onions on low heat, stirring frequently, until golden and caramelized (you can heat them on medium low heat until slightly golden around the edges if you are short on time). Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, honey, and chili paste.

Unroll pizza dough onto baking sheet or pizza stone. Spread BBQ sauce over the pizza dough, top with chicken, caramelized onions, then shredded cheese. Sprinkle cilantro over the top if desired.

Bake for 13-18 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden.

*Alternatively, you can bake the pizza dough alone in the oven for 8 minutes, then add the sauce and toppings and bake an additional 6-11 minutes, or until golden.