Monday, December 26, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato-Carrot Mash

I served this at Christmas dinner, rather than my usual cheesy potatoes. It was a nice variation, & much healthier. The sweet potatoes and yams inclusion made it really sweet, even though there is no sugar added. The carrots were a really nice touch. All of the veggies were from my last Bountiful Baskets order. Yummmmm!

Roasted Sweet Potato-Carrot Mash


2 medium sized Yukon Gold Potatoes

2 large Sweet Potatoes

2 large Yams

3 Rustic Carrots (yellow, red, & orange)

3/4 cup Heavy Cream

Salt & Pepper

3 tablespoons Butter

1 cup Chicken stock

1 cup water (Optional)


Begin by washing, and peeling the carrots & potatoes. Slice all of the potatoes lengthwise in a horizontal direction. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a cookie sheet with sides, with a little olive oil.

Roast the carrots & potatoes for about 20-25 minutes, Turning at least twice, so they don’t burn or develop a hard crusty exterior.

Remove potatoes & carrots from baking sheet & dice into large bit sized pieces. Add salt & chicken stock to a large pot & cook potatoes, and carrots in stock over a medium-low heat until tender. You may need to add a little water as they cook down, to avoid burning. Stir regularly. Once finished, using a potato masher, mash them into a fine pulp. Add butter, & cream. With a hand style blender finish blending until the mixture has a creamy consistency & all lumps are gone. Season with salt & pepper.

Chicken and Goat Cheese Quiche

This quiche was one of the recipes I made for Christmas Dinner (lunch). I have a couple of varieties I make of this style quiche, but this was the first in which I used goat cheese. I loved the creaminess it added to the recipe, and I will be using it again in the future. It worked very well. This also reheats well in a toaster oven, & we had it again this morning for brunch. Enjoy.

Goat Cheese and Chicken Quiche

2 frozen deep dish Pie Crusts (or homemade pie crust)

1 diced yellow Onion

2  boneless Chicken breasts-chopped finely

2 tablespoons Olive oil

½ cup Sour cream

2 teaspoons Butter

1/2 tsp. Nature's Seasoning

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup Mozzarella

1/8 cup Goat cheese   

1/8 cup fresh flat leaf Parsley-chopped

½ cup fresh Basil-minced

8 eggs

1 cup heavy Cream

Salt & Pepper to taste


Over medium heat, sauté olive oil, 2 tablespoons of butter, basil, parsley, and onions till golden brown. Add chicken, salt, pepper, and Nature’s Seasoning. Cook until well done & chicken is cooked through (about 7 minutes total). Remove from heat & set aside.

Whisk together eggs, crumble goat cheese & add the remaining ingredients. Whisk together. , & add chicken.  Split the mixture between 2 pie crusts. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes. Cover edges of pie crust with egg wash, to prevent burning.

Roasted Herbed Rack of Lamb

We had a rack of Lamb I've been saving for a special occasion, & Christmas dinner felt like a perfect time. This was my very first time, & I can say I would have opted to cook it a little longer (its a little too pink for me). Which I ended up doing for an extra 5 minutes. It ended up being done with a little pink spot in the middle. The crust was Ahh-maZING! Try it. You will LOVE it!

Roasted Herbed Rack of Lamb


2-3 large Garlic cloves

½ cup chopped fresh Basil

½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese

1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons herbs de Provence*

1 & ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 & ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Salt

1 /2 teaspoon pepper

1 &1/2-pound rack of lamb, trimmed


Mince garlic in processor. Add basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs de Provence, Dijon, and Romano. Pulse in food processor until all ingredients are smooth & come together in a paste. The paste can be made ahead of time. Chill until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Arrange, bone side down, on small rimmed baking sheet. Press breadcrumb mixture onto lamb, coating completely. Roast until meat thermometer inserted into center of lamb registers 135°F for medium-rare, about 30 minutes. Let lamb rest 15 minutes. Transfer lamb to cutting board. Cut between bones into individual or double chops.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas everybody!

Christmas is finally here. Couldn't sleep last night...just like a little kid. Couldn't wait to get up & open gifts, and get this day started.

Will be getting started on my Christmas meal soon....
Rack of Lamb
Chicken & Goat Cheese Quiche
Triple Potato Mash......

Tonight we will be heading over to a friends home to spend the evening with them.

Off to Dallas in two days to see the fam. & I can't wait!

The tree looks beautiful this morning, before the massive disaster of wrapping paper ensues.

The dog helped me set everything up. No, that's a complete lie. He chased the rolls of ribbon around. He tore wrapping paper, and barked at the tree. Then I put him in doggie jail (kennel) & the world was right again!

No snow here. It feels kind of strange. Less Christmaslike (if that's a word).

All set to open gifts. Now off to make some coffee...with Baileys (heeeeyyyy, it's Christmas) & just for your information-holidays don't count.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

When planning dinner last night I realized that I had eaten over the last week, enough sugar, carbs, and butter to kill a large horse. It was time for something a little healthier, AND totally different.....Asian Chicken Lettuce different can that be from the many holiday foods we all eat around this time of year. After two of these, and a glass of water, I felt like I had "done my body good".....!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Leaves from Butter Lettuce-washed & patted dry

4 tablespoons Oil

1 teaspoon Sesame oil

3 boneless skinless Chicken breasts

1/2 cup Water Chestnut (from can)

½ cup Mushrooms-chopped

½ yellow Onion-minced

2-3 green Onions-chopped

1 cup fresh Carrots-julienned

3 cloves minced fresh Garlic

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons Soy sauce

2 teaspoons Fish sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine Vinegar

2 teaspoons Siracha sauce

1 tablespoon hot Mustard

1 teaspoon red chili paste in oil

White pepper

¼ cup toasted Sesame seeds


Heat oil over high heat in a large wok. Sauté onions, garlic, and green onions until golden brown & fragrant. Add chicken, soy sauce, white pepper, fish sauce, chili sauce, Siracha, and stir well. Cover & cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add carrots, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add mustard, rice wine vinegar, sugar, water chestnuts, and mushrooms & cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat & stir in sesame seeds. Serve immediately over washed & dried lettuce leaves.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies

White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies


·    3/4 cup butter-at room temperature

·    3/4 cup white sugar

·    3/4 cup brown sugar

·    2 eggs

·    2 teaspoons pure Vanilla

·    2 tablespoons dark Rum

·    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

·    1 teaspoon baking soda

·    1 teaspoon Salt

·    1 cup Macadamia nuts

·    2 cups white Chocolate or good quality Vanilla baking chips


In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs, rum and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Lastly add in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips. Chill dough in freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Using a tablespoon measure out a large rounded size spoonful, and place onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 375°F for 8 minutes. Cook on pan for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spiced Ginger-Pear Vodka

I used my beautiful & ripe Bosc pears from my last Bountiful Baskets order to make this recipe. I made the vodka in the unused jars from my canning from earlier this summer. Since we made DIY gifts for all our friends this Christmas, I gave these along with Peppermint BarkCandy Cane Vodka ,  White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies & Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies !

Spiced Ginger-Pear Vodka


1 large Quart jar (also used for jarring or canning) with combining lid

3-4 Bosc Pears-Pitted & sliced

1/3 cup fresh peeled & chopped Ginger

1 teaspoon Nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground Ginger

¼ cup Simple Syrup

Good Quality Vodka


Peel & slice your pears, then add to the jar. Add spices, as well as the peeled and chopped ginger. Fill the rest of the jar to the rim with vodka, shake well & then store in a cool & dry location for 2 weeks. Shake jar periodically every few days. Once ready, remove pears & strain. Add simple syrup & shake well. Serve chilled over ice, or use in a martini or mixed drink.

Candycane Vodka.......More DIY Gifts

I've seen a couple variations of this on Pinterest & so I decided to try it myself. It looked so simple & perfect to pair with our Christmas boxes of Peppermint Bark , White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies (Posting coming soon) & Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies !

I also made a variation of this Vodka to be used to make Martinis: Spiced Ginger Pear Vodka..Mmmmmmm! Check out the recipe for Candycane Vodka,  & Spiced Ginger-Pear Vodka

CandyCane Vodka


1 large Quart jar (also used for jarring or canning) with combining lid

1 package Red & White Striped Candy canes (don’t use the ones with green or it will come out with a strange hue

A couple drops Peppermint Extract

Good Quality Vodka


Peel your candy canes & place into vodka. Add a couple of drops of the peppermint extract, shake, place lid on & tighten. Place into a cool & dry area for about a week. Shake well every few days. Serve chilled over ice, or use in a martini or mixed drink.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dark & White Chocolate Peppermint Bark....DIY Gifts!

I may still be wearing the P.J's I woke up in yesterday, which is the down side......but that's not important. The UP side is that I spent almost the entire weekend baking, and making DIY Christmas gifts for our friends & co-workers on base. In order to do that, I had to make some sacrifices, mainly-showering. But just to re-assure everyone that will be receiving a DIY gift from me, I showered the night before I started, so that technically counts!

After I made these, I packed them all up in the cutest Martha Stewart Treat boxes, which I found in a set that comes with ribbon, box, tissue paper & even a label...can't beat that! Not to mention that Christmas stuff at Michael's is the B.O.M.B.!


Dark and White Chocolate Peppermint Bark


1 & ½ bags high quality dark Chocolate chips

1 & ½ bags high quality White Chocolate chips

3 teaspoons real Peppermint Extract (divided)

1 box Candy canes (individually wrapped)

Wax paper

Non-stick spray

A large cookie sheet with no edge

A freezer (lol)


Melt dark chocolate chips over a water bath on medium-low heat. Once melted mix in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, mixing well until well combined. On a cookie sheet, cover with wax paper, then spray lightly with non-stick spray. Pour the melted chocolate evenly across the sheet, spreading with a spatula to coat evenly. Place into the freezer immediately.

Melt white chocolate chips over a water bath on medium-low heat. Once melted mix in 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, mixing well until well combined. Remove cookie sheet with dark chocolate from freezer, & pour white chocolate over the top, spreading quickly and evenly. Take care not to overwork the chocolate as it will begin to melt the darker layer underneath. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy canes & place back into the freezer overnight.

The next day: Remove bark from freezer, & cut into sections by splitting with the tip of a sharp knife. The bark should break into pieces. Store in fridge or in a zip lock bag for up to 2 weeks.

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter-room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together until well combined. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and peppermint extract. Melt chocolate chips, and add orange essence. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the melted chocolate and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate-Caramel Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Chocolate-Caramel Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

For the cupcakes:

1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups high quality cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup butter-softened to room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup homemade Caramel

½ cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For the Caramel Filling:

**See my recipe for Salted caramel sauce

For the Frosting:

2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature

2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Seeds/pulp of ½ of one vanilla bean

1 tablespoon whole cream-adjust upward to obtain the desired consistency

Directions: For the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl, and then set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, salted caramel, sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

4. With a very small spoon, dig out a circular well in the center of the cupcake. Then fill the center either by piping the cooled salted caramel into the well, or with a teaspoon. Finish by frosting with vanilla frosting.

For the Icing

In a large mixer, combine the sticks of butter, vanilla, and confection sugar gradually. Slowly add cream until you reach the desired consistency.

**Adapted from a Mybakingaddiction recipe

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bountiful Baskets

We participate in a food co-op, for fruits, vegetables, organic whole grain breads, and other healthy add-in's. Our pick up is bi-weekly, & is all run by volunteers (hence the name co-op). This is the second month we've contributed, & although you have to be creative surrounding planning meals, it gives you great options to cook with during the winter especially, when the offerings in local grocery stores are less than exciting. Plus, the organic option is great! Each main basket will contain a minture of 50% fruit & 50% veggies, for a 30 lb. basket.

Great Falls isn't a location that would normally have a variety of fresh veggies and fruits all winter, but because we have access to the co-op, which trucks in produce only a few days old, I am able to create recipes with ingredients like pineapple, eggplant, squash, and fresh herbs all winter long. It's good quality & inexpensive.

Since my garage pantry shelves act as an additional fridge in the winter, I have the room to store extra produce, which by the way keeps for up to a month. BONUS! So here's to dreaming up some more amazing recipes the rest of the winter long! Cheers!

Check it out:


Monday, December 12, 2011

Caramelized Onion & Portabella Pizza

Caramelized Onion & Portabella Pizza

Okay folks, this really is easy pizza dough to make. Although the directions call for a mixer, last night I hand mixed the dough with a large wooden spoon, then set it aside to rise. The entire process took me maybe 10 minutes, & another 20 to rise. You cannot beat that.

AND, I topped it with whatever we had in the house…..of course Mozzarella cheese….and I added a little Brie.

Mine was topped with sliced Portabella Mushrooms, sautéed for about 3 minutes in olive oil & a few garlic slices, salt & pepper…done!

I also added some caramelized yellow onions, which consists of peeling, & cutting into slices a yellow onion, then sautéing it on medium heat in butter until golden brown. Salt & set aside.

Follow the directions below for the pizza dough. Once ready, cut the large ball of dough in half. This makes two good sized pizza’s that will feed about 3.

Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ cups (Approx.) All-purpose white flour, plus more for dusting & rolling pizza


In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the mixer on low (or just use your arm & a wooden spoon) and add the salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated.

When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine
periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a
small amount together: if it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour - 1
tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough gathers into a ball, this should take about 5

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times;
kneading until it is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly
oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise
in a warm spot (i.e. over a gas pilot light/warm oven) until doubled in size, about 45 min. to 1 hour.

This is a good time to stick a pizza stone in the oven and preheat them to 425 degrees F.

Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and
stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out.

Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust a pizza
paddle with flour and slide it under the pizza dough. Brush the crust with a thin layer of
olive oil, and top with your favorite flavors.

Slide the pizza onto the hot stone in the
oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with the
remaining dough.