Monday, March 24, 2008

Chicken Cacciatore...I think??

When I came up with the idea for this meal, I really wasn't thinking of it as Chicken Cacciatore. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that that's pretty much what this is. I don't have onions or bell peppers in mine, which are 2 things you'd usually find in Chicken Cacciatore. But otherwise, it's pretty much the same. I actually can't take all the credit for coming up with this idea. Most of the credit has to go to my wonderful husband. Last week I made a very simple pasta dish that I watched Giada make on one of her Everyday Italian shows on The Food Network. We all loved it and Rob could not stop raving about it. He decided that it would be even better with chicken. So I started brainstorming and came up with what I guess is my own version of Chicken Cacciatore. It was delicious and I cannot wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Chicken Cacciatore, Kayte-style :)

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin or butterflied
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour. Cook in pan until browned on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and cover.

Add broth and garlic to pan. Scrape brown bits off of bottom of pan. Add tomatoes and cook until softened. After the tomatoes have softened a bit, smash them with the back of a fork, creating a chunky tomato sauce. Add mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken back to skillet, season with herbs and salt and pepper, cover and simmer over low-medium heat about 20 minutes. Serve over whole wheat pasta.

Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

I have seen so many variations of this wonderful treat and have never made them before. Which is odd since they are 2 of my favorite desserts all wrapped up in one delicious little treat. But there's a reason for this. You see, neither my daughter nor my husband will eat anything even remotely related to cheesecake. So I have chosen not to make them up until this point because it would be extremely dangerous for me to have something like this in my house and be the only one to consume them.

I knew that we would be spending Easter with my family and I had planned on making a Blueberry Pie. But those plans fell through due to time constraints, and I needed a dessert that would come together a little more quickly. So I realized that I had a perfect opportunity to make my beloved Cheesecake Brownies and not have them staring at me from my kitchen!

My next job was to find a recipe. I decided that I wanted to use my Deep Dish Brownie recipe, since they're my absolute fave and the only brownies I ever make. So I surfed over to bakingblonde's blog, knowing that I'd find a great cheesecake component for my yummy brownies. So I just took the cheesecake part of her Cheesecake Brownies recipe, added it to my Deep Dish Brownie recipe, and VOILA! Cheesecake Brownies! Unfortunately, my aunt made me bring home the leftover brownies and I'm not going to embarrass myself by telling how many I've had since yesterday...

Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

Brownie Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cheesecake Ingredients:
7 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp pure Vanilla
1 egg

To make the brownies:
~Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 inch square pan.
~In a large bowl, blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually blend dry mixture into the egg mixture.
For the cheesecake mixture:
~In bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla beat until smooth. Add egg and beat just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the brownies batter into prepared pan. Dollop cheesecake mixture on top of brownie batter and dollop remaining brownie batter on top of cheesecake mixture. Run a knife through the batters, creating a swirl pattern. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

I grew up in a big Irish Catholic family and St. Patrick's Day was always a big event in our house. We always went to the parade in Baltimore and my mom always (actually she still does) decorated the house with all kinds of Shamrocks and other green things. I even took a few years of Irish Step dance lessons and danced in the parade on a float a couple of years in a row. One thing I had never done, though, is make an Irish Soda Bread. So I decided to look for a recipe and give it a shot this year.

I searched blogs and websites and finally decided on a recipe I found on I really do love this site. It has become my go-to site for tried and true recipes. This recipe was amazing. It turned out more beautiful and delicious than I thought it would. The only issue I had was when it came time to knead the dough. The recipe says that the dough will be sticky. Well, that may very well be the biggest understatement of the century. In the future, I will let my KA mixer do the kneading. I will definitely be keeping this as my go-to Irish Soda Bread recipe. It was so yummy!

Irish Soda Bread (

1/2 cup white sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups raisins
1 tbsp caraway seeds (I omitted these because I couldn't find them in the store)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round cast iron skillet or a 9 inch round cake pan (I used a cake pan).

In a mixing bowl, combine flour (reserving 1 tbsp), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt raisins and caraway seeds. In a small bowl, blend eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir the liqiud mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Knead dough in bowl about 10 to 12 strokes. Dough will be sticky (they aren't kidding!) Place the dough in prepared skillet or pan and pat down. Cut a 4x3/4 inch deep slit in the top of the bread. Dust with reserved flour.

Bake in preheated oven for 65-75 minutes. Let cool and turn bread onto a wire rack.

Tastes great toasted with butter or jam!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Honey Wheat Bread

I have actually already made this bread before. But I haven't made it since I started my blog. I guess I forgot how easy it was to make. This was my first yeast bread ever, and I think it is the perfect bread for someone who has never used yeast before. It is very easy and has very few ingredients. the only issue is that the instructions from left out a few helpful tips. First of all, it just says to dissolve the yeast in the warm water. It doesn't describe how long this will take or what it will look like. Basically, it takes about 10 minutes and the mixture should get foamy. This is called proofing. I didn't know this when I first made the bread, but luckily I was able to enlist the help of my nestie friends, so it was still a success.
Another thing I didn't know when I first made this loaf was how to shape a loaf so that it looks pretty. You'll notice from the white bread I made a while back, that I didn't learn this until recently :-) Actually, I believe Amber was the one who told me how to roll it out into a rectangle and then roll it into a log and tuck the ends in. My loaves turned out much better this time, so thanks for the tip Amber :-)
If you have never made a yeast bread before, but are interested in taking the plunge, I'd highly recommend this recipe. it is so easy and very delicious. It doesn't really make good sandwich bread because it's very sweet. But it's perfect for breakfast/snacks. I love to make it into French Toast. Yum!

Honey Wheat Bread (source:
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup honey (I used more like 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (I only ended up adding 4 cups of flour. 5 cups of flour makes this bread very dense)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. This should take about 10 minutes. The yeast is dissolved when the mixture is foamy. Add honey, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Work all-purpose flour in gradually. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes (I let my KA Stand Mixer do the work for me here). When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough. Shape into two loaves, and place into two well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans (this should take about 45 minutes to an hour).

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, March 7, 2008

My first award :-)

I can't tell you how honored I was to find out that Chelle has bestowed such a wonderful award upon me! Chelle is a very dear friend of mine, and I absolutely adore her blog. So when she told me that she was passing along the "You Make My Day" award to me, I was so touched. Chelle totally makes my day, everyday. She makes me laugh all the time and she is just about the sweetest person I know. Thanks so much Chelle!

I am now going to pass this award on to 10 people who make my day (Chelle, I'd totally give this one right back to you :-)) Elly, Meghan, Kate, Carrie, Jenny, Gillian, Renea, Ally, Danielle, and Lauren. Pass this award on to 10 people who make your day!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Eat to the Beat - Custard Pie

Elly over at Elly Says Opa is having her first blogging event and she has named it Eat to the Beat. I am really excited about this one for a few reasons. First of all, this is my first blogging event. Second, this is Elly's first time hosting event and I am excited to be participating. Most importantly though, is that I think this is a really great idea and really gets people to be creative. I'll be honest though. I didn't think I'd be able to come up with anything. I'm not huge into music. I mean, I love music, don't get me wrong. But I'm sort of indiscriminate to the types of music I listen to. I'll admit to loving a song for a long time and not even knowing who is singing it...But I knew I wanted to participate. So I enlisted the help of my fantastic husband, Rob. And within about 5 minutes I knew what I was making for my entry.

Rob is a pretty big Led Zepplin fan, so for anyone reading this who may already know Rob, it should be no surprise that the first thing that came to mind was a Led Zepplin song. I, of course, had never heard of this particular song, but just from the title I knew what kind of recipe to search for:

Led Zepplin: Custard Pie
Drop down, baby, let your daddy see. Drop down, mama, just dream of me Well, my mama allow me to fool around all night long Well, I may look like I'm crazy, I should know right from wrong See me comin', throw your man out the door Ain't no stranger, been this way before See me comin', mama, throw your man out the door I ain't no stranger, I been this way before. Put on your night shirt and your morning gown You know by night I'm gonna shake 'em all down

Put on your night shirt Mama, and your morning gown
Well, you know by night I'm gonna shake 'em all down Your custard pie, yeah, sweet and nice When you cut it, mama, save me a slice Your custard pie, I declare, it's sweet and nice I Like your custard pie When you cut it, mama... mama, please save me a slice.

Chewin' a piece of your custard pie. Drop down

Easy enough, right? Now the only problem I faced at this point was that I'd never really had custard pie before, much less tried to make it. So I didn't have a tried and true recipe to go to. So off to I went to try to find a fancy, gourmet Custard Pie recipe. No luck. I couldn't find one. So I went to my trusty and found several. So after reading reviews and looking at pictures, I landed on what looked like the best one with the best reviews. I also found out that Custard Pie is extremely easy to make. Bonus points!!

I have also never made pie pastry from scratch before. So I went back to and found a really easy Basic Pie Pastry recipe. It was so easy to throw together and I am very happy about having an opportunity to make pie pastry for the first time. The pastry was a sinch to throw together and rolled out really easily. It resulted in a nice flaky pastry, and was really great for a beginner like myself. However, the flavor was lacking something and I will keep trying other pastry recipes until I find one that is just right for me. I do really recommend this recipe for those who are afraid of pastry dough though! It was super simple and I am no longer afraid.

I'm really disappointed because my pictures turned out really horrible. It's really hard to get a good picture with my camera. But this pie was so delicious! The pictures really do it no justice. I realized as I was measuring the milk that skim milk might not be the best idea for something like a custard pie. But it's all I had because it's all I ever have. And I think it turned out wonderfully. That being said, if I want to make it again (and I'm pretty sure I do!) and make it thicker and firmer I might try half and half or whole milk. My mom tells me that Custard Pie was my grandfather's favorite dessert and so I am dedicating this blog entry to his memory. I wish he could share a piece of this delicious pie with me!

Basic Pie Pastry (source - I am going to type up only the parts of the recipe I used. If you follow the link, it will give you the ingredients for a double crust pie and also the method to use if you are using a food processor.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 to 4 tbsp cold water

Hand Method
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl and toss together with your hands. Add the shortening. With your fingertips, 2 knives or a pastry blender (i used my fingers), blend the ingredients together, working quickly, until you have a mixture of tiny, irregular flakes and bits about the size of coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on the water, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring gently with a fork after each addition. Add just enough water for the dough to form a rough mass.

With floured hands, pat the dough into a smooth disk. The dough is now ready to use. It is not necessary to refrigerate the dough before rolling (inless you included some butter), although for convenience it may be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Rolling our the dough:
Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick, or about 2 inches wider than the top of the pie dish. Try to keep the dough as roung as possible.

Transfer the rolled out pastry to the pie dish. Pat the pastry in around the egdes to fit the shape of the dish.

Egg Custard Pie (source:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsps flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
1 recipe for a 9" single crust pie
1. Bake pie shell at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. Combine melted butter, sugar, flour, milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Add beaten eggs and blend well. Pour filling into partially baked pie shell. I sprinkled the top of the pie with nutmeg and granulated sugar (about a teaspoon of each) before baking and it made for a really nice crust on top

3. Bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes (mine took more like 60 minutes) or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Do not overcook.