Monday, January 25, 2010

Orange Juice Breakfast Rolls

A few weeks back when we were experiencing some obscenely cold weather, I was in the mood to bake, and I wanted something extra yummy for breakfast. I didn't feel like making my usual Breakfast Rolls -- although the recipe is fantastic -- so I went searching for something new and found this Rhodes Bake-N-Serv recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand, so it was the perfect recipe. However, I decided to adapt the recipe so that I could make the rolls the night before and bake them in the morning. So here's my overnight version.

By the way, the kids went crazy for these, and I loved them, too!

Orange Juice Breakfast Rolls

9 MSPI-friendly frozen dinner rolls (such as Rhodes)
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
pinch ground cloves
pinch cinnamon
orange zest, if desired

1 tbsp. orange juice concentrate, thawed
3 tbsp. powdered sugar

The night before, combine orange juice concentrate and sugar in a small bowl. Dip each roll in orange juice mixture until well coated. Place coated rolls in a sprayed 9-inch round cake pan or deep dish pie pan. Drizzle any remaining juice mixture over the rolls.

Combine brown sugar, cloves and cinnamon. Sprinkle over rolls. Cover loosely with sprayed wax paper and a towel and let rise on the counter over night.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove covers from rolls and bake for 15-20 minutes. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm rolls. Garnish with orange zest if desired.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tinted Angel Cake

Now, I don't want you to think Libby missed out on having her own birthday cake. My mom was kind enough to bake her this cake, which was most definitely fit for a princess!

The original directions from Midwest Living magazine say to top the cake with curls of white chocolate. Obviously, that's not MSPI-friendly. You could just leave them off, or try something else, like coconut or sprinkles.

Tinted Angel Cake

1 16-oz. pkg. MSPI-friendly angel food cake mix, plus the ingredients needed to mix the batter
3/4 tsp. Kool-Aid tropical punch, pink lemonade, black cherry or your favorite flavor unsweetened soft drink mix
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp. hot water
1/4 tsp. Kool-Aid unsweetened soft drink mix

In a large mixing bowl, combine angel food cake mix and 3/4 teaspoon Kool-Aid mix. Mix, bake and cool the cake according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, hot water and 1/4 teaspoon Kool-Aid mix. If necessary, add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over cake.

Birthday Train Cake

We've been pretty busy around our house this week. JD turned 2 on Saturday, and Libby turned 5 today! I can't believe how big my kiddos are getting!

We had a family celebration for the kids on Saturday, with both sets of grandparents coming into town for the festivities. The kids relished all the love and attention!

JD has recently fallen in love with trains, thanks to the GeoTrax train set that Santa brought him for Christmas, so I decided to make him a train cake for his birthday. I loosely followed these directions from Kraft, but made it MSPI-friendly. If you don't want to use a cake mix, try making a Wacky Cake instead.

Birthday Train Cake

1 pkg. MSPI-friendly cake mix, including the ingredients needed to mix batter
2 tubs MSPI-friendly vanilla cake icing
Assorted food colorings
17 MSPI-friendly chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos
1 pkg. ring-shaped hard candies
1 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate-flavored cereal
6 MSPI-friendly animal crackers
1 miniature marshmallow
24 pieces licorice (I used chocolate flavored.)

Mix together cake batter, according to package directions. Grease five foil miniature loaf pans. Divide batter evenly between loaf pans. Bake according to package directions -- about 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Completely cool cakes.

If necessary, slice off the tops of the cakes so they sit evenly when flipped upside down. Line up four cakes, bottom sides up, on a large tray or serving platter for train cars. (I covered a large piece of cardboard with foil.)

Slice fifth cake in half. Place one piece at the back end of the first cake to resemble train engine. Place the second piece in the middle of the last cake to resemble caboose.

Tint icing with food coloring, as desired. Frost the cakes -- see the tip below.

Decorate cakes with candy: Place licorice along sides of cakes to form train tracks. Place four Oreo cookies on each train car for wheels. Using icing, "glue" a hard candy to each wheel. Using a serrated knife, slice off one-third of an Oreo. Stack the two pieces together, and place them on the front of the engine. Put a hard candy on top of that, with a marshmallow "glued" to its center.

Place hard candies on engine and caboose for windows. Place 2-inch slices of licorice around the zoo car for cage bars. Place animal crackers inside cage. Sprinkle top of coal car with the cereal. Finally, use a large birthday candle as the engine's smoke stack.

Tip: Icing cakes can be messy. To make it easier, first refrigerate your cakes, then smooth on a thin coating of icing, called a crumb layer. Refrigerate again. Then smooth on your main layer of icing. The crumb layer will capture the cake crumbs, and keep your main layer nice and clean!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beer Bread

This recipe, which is slightly adapted from the Food Network, is beyond easy. Seriously, only FOUR ingredients! I made several loaves of this bread as gifts for our neighbors at Christmas. I had one neighbor tell me that she inhaled the entire loaf in one day!

The flavor of the bread is greatly influenced by the beer you use. I like to use lighter, sweeter tasting beers, such as Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss.

Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz. beer
2 tbsp. melted MSPI-friendly margarine, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and beer and mix well. The mixture should be sticky. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes. At the last 3 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with margarine and return to oven.

Tip: Don't have self-rising flour on hand? Then substitute 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes, but make sure you leave off the margarine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coconut Chicken Curry

When on this diet, I found myself often craving creamy foods, especially since traditional ice cream and yogurts were a big no-no. That's when my love affair with coconut milk began. It's such a versatile ingredient. It's fabulous in desserts and in savory dishes, such as this recipe that I kind of concocted, after being inspired by this H-E-B recipe. (It's also somewhat similar to the Curry Chicken recipe I posted nearly two years ago.)

I decided to throw in peas and garbanzo beans for color and extra protein, but you can use whatever veggies you have on hand. I think cauliflower and carrots would be fantastic. Just precook the veggies or adjust your cooking time. You could make this vegetarian easily by skipping the chicken. Just add more veggies and beans.

If you're interested in trying some other recipes with coconut milk, just do a search using the search engine on the right side of my blog. You won't be disappointed!

Coconut Chicken Curry

1 lb. chicken breasts, sliced into bite-sized pieces
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp. oil
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 14-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas
1 can garbanzo beans
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
Hot, cooked rice

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until done. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add onions to skillet and cook 10 minutes or until very soft. Stir in curry powder and cook 1 more minute. Stir coconut milk, peas and garbanzo beans into skillet with onions. Cook 2 to 3 minutes to warm peas and beans and to thicken and reduce the sauce slightly. Add chicken back into skillet.

Combine cornstarch with water and stir into skillet mixture to thicken. (The mixture will thicken faster if you bring it to a simmer.) Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with rice.

Tip: I love curry, but if you're somewhat leery of this ingredient, then cut back on the spice and flavor to your taste.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Soft Pretzels

While we're on the subject of pretzels, why not try your hand at making some of the larger variety? This method is surprisingly easy, and it's a great recipe to get any bakers-in-training you have in your house involved in the kitchen. Libby loved shaping the pretzels and "painting" the egg wash on the dough. What a great way to spend a snow day -- our fifth of the year. Friday will be No. 6.

The recipe I used comes from The Sisters' Cafe. (I've expanded on the directions to make them a little more user-friendly.) The recipe is especially easy if you have a mixer with a dough hook, otherwise you can still make them by hand. Just roll up your sleeves, coat your counter top with plenty of flour and knead to your heart's content!

These are great just as they are or try dipping them in honey mustard. Yum!

Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp. or pkg. of yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 cups flour
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
kosher salt

Add sugar to warm water then sprinkle yeast on top. Let float for a minute then stir to dissolve the yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes as yeast activates and starts to foam. Add salt and flour and knead 5-10 minutes (in a mixer on low or by hand) adding more flour as needed to reduce stickiness.

Coat counter top and hands lightly with flour. Place dough on flour. Divide dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a long rope or "snake." Twist into pretzel shape and place on a nonstick baking sheet. (I recommend using a Silpat or parchment paper.)

Make an egg wash with the egg and water, lightly beaten together. Brush pretzels with egg wash then sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tip: Be sure to liberally coat all exposed areas of the pretzels with the egg wash. It's what gives the pretzels their wonderful color.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

This is a quick and easy snack that is sure to satisfy any sweet, salty and crunchy craving you may have.

This recipe came from my aunt, and I think she said she got it from a guest that stayed at their motel years ago. All I know is that it tastes great!

This batch was made with Christmas-shaped pretzels. They make a great little food gift for friends, neighbors, teachers, etc.

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1-lb. bag of small pretzels

Mix together oil, sugar and cinnamon. Pour pretzels into a large, microwave-safe bowl. Pour oil mixture over the pretzels and stir to coat.

Cook in microwave for 3 minutes, stirring every minute, making sure to incorporate any of the oil mixture that collects at the bottom of the bowl. Spread pretzels out on cookie sheets to cool.

Tip: If you're having a hard time incorporating all of the oil mixture when you stir the pretzels, just pour the pretzels into a second bowl and scrape the oil mixture off the bottom of the first bowl and stir into the pretzels.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pasta Puttanesca

As you can see by the above photo, we've been dealing with a ton of the white stuff around here, and it doesn't look like it will be disappearing anytime soon.

I hope all of you had wonderful Christmases. My parents joined us here at our house. We ate (too much!) and opened (too many!) presents and were truly grateful to be in a warm home, because a blizzard was a-blowin' outside! And most of all, we were grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Well, one of the dishes I made for Christmas dinner was this recipe from Epicurios, which I served as a side dish to a prime rib roast. Yum!

I slightly adapted the recipe to our personal tastes (such as using black olives) and the fact I couldn't find fresh basil at the store, but the original recipe is perfectly MSPI-friendly, as well. Oh, and don't be afraid of the anchovy paste, it completely dissolves into the sauce and just leaves a wonderful salty flavor behind. Not fishy in the least! But if you want to make the dish vegetarian, just leave the paste out. You will likely need to add more salt, though.

Pasta Puttanesca

1 lb. dried linguine
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. anchovy paste
1/2 tsp. hot red-pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes (preferably Italian)
1 can black olives, sliced in half
2 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
Pinch of sugar (optional)

Cook linguine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente.

While pasta boils, cook garlic, anchovy paste and red-pepper flakes in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes to garlic oil along with olives and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is ready. Stir in sugar, salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes.

Tip: The sauce can be made up to a few days ahead and reheated. Just add the freshly cooked pasta to the pan before serving.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes