Lion House Rolls

These are the rolls I made my hubby for Father's Day on Sunday.  They were humongous and we all couldn't believe how big they were.  I've been using this recipe for years and I usually make 40 rolls but decided to make big ones just like the Lion House Restaurant does in Salt Lake City.  There is something just so great about having a big, buttery roll taking up a third of your plate.....
Lion House Rolls (makes 15 giant or 40 normal)
2 C warm water
2/3 C nonfat dry milk
2 Tb yeast
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp salt
1/3 C butter, melted
1 egg
5 - 5 1/2 C flour
1.  In your mixer with whisk attachment, combine water and milk powder until milk dissolves.  Add yeast, sugar, butter, egg and 2 C of flour.  Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Switch to dough hook and add 2 more cups of flour and salt.  Mix for 2 minutes then add enough of remaining flour to achieve a soft, but not overly sticky dough.  It will be much softer than a bread dough.
2.  Cover and allow dough to rise until double, about one hour.  Turn dough onto floured surface and divide into desired number of rolls.  Using your hand in a cupping shape, rolls dough into tight balls and place on a greased sheet pan (for giant rolls, five rows of three or for normal, 8 rows of five).  Cover and allow rolls to rise until double in size.  Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes.  Brush top of rolls with melted butter when they are finished baking.

Seven Layer Bars

We are enduring our third week together since school has let out for the summer.  The first few weeks always make me cringe because it is such an adjustment to get five kids on a new schedule without battling me every step.  By the time we get it mastered, it is time for school to start again! 

This summer has brought the addition of many, many, many new friends hanging out at our home and they are always more than welcome.  We do our best to have the great kid attractions so they want to be here:  Wii, trampoline, tree house, zip line, iMac, etc.  It was about mid-week last week that I realized as far as snacks are concerned though, our house was embarrassing!  I don't like to buy "snacks" because I like my kids to eat fruits and veggies to snack on but I came to the realization that I need a better selection for when the friends visit.  Thus the introduction and trial period of the Friend Snack Box....a box in the basement with unhealthy snacks only to be used with permission when friends are over.  These bars were made as a donation to that box and quickly devoured.  I know this recipe is out there in a million different fashions and this is a very, very good version!

Seven Layer Bars
1 1/4 C sweetened flaked coconut
1 stick butter, melted
10 graham crackers, crushed
1 C finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 C white chocolate chips
1/2 C butterscotch chips
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1.  Use a nonstick skillet and toast coconut and pecans separately over medium heat until lightly toasted.
2.  Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Crush graham crackers and mix with butter.  Sprinkle into the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle in order:  the pecans, then the semisweet chips, white chips, butterscotch chips and coconut.  Pour condensed milk evenly over the entire dish.
3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack until completely cool and firm, about 2 hours.  

Southwest Monte Cristo Sandwiches

"My Mom's a health nut!"  That was my daughter's reason for why I didn't deep fry these sandwiches, like a classic Monte Cristo would be prepared.  I think my previous post is proof enough to end that type of reasoning.  
This is the reappearance of the second loaf of American Sandwich Bread I mentioned a few days ago.  I have never made Monte Cristos before but after reading the recipe I knew I would need a very sturdy and stable bread.  This bread was absolutely perfect and I completely loved it in the Monte Cristos.  I paired it with a new black bean soup recipe that was at best mediocre so I won't waste my time or yours by posting it.  My kids were completely bummed that I didn't have any extra sandwiches because they were a hit!

Southwest Monte Cristo Sandwiches
by Rachael Ray
8 slices quality sandwich bread
1/2 C hot pepper jelly, tomatillo salsa or taco sauce
8 slices honey baked ham
8 slices turkey
8 slices pepper jack cheese
2 eggs
1/2 C milk
2 tsp hot sauce

1.  Beat eggs with milk, hot sauce and a little salt.  Heat skillet over medium heat.
2.  Build sandwiches by quickly dipping one side only of a piece of bread and laying it egg side down on the counter.  Spread a light layer of taco sauce on the side of bread facing you and top with two pieces of each meat and cheese.  Dip one side of second piece of bread in the eggs and place it on your sandwich, dry side down.  Assemble the other sandwiches the same way.
3.  Spread a bit of butter on your skillet and cook your sandwiches on both sides until golden brown.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Last year for Father's Day, my health was lousy and I wasn't able to organize much for my wonderful hubby and father of my five kids.  He was due for something special, especially since he spent much of the past two years being mother and father while I was sick.  He got a gorgeous new camera as a present and a true man meal for dinner.  Steak, homemade rolls, fresh green beans and this cake for dessert.

Put chocolate and peanut butter together in any form and he is in heaven so once I saw this on Bakerella's site, I knew it was perfect for Father's Day.   I was intrigued by this recipe because it was based from a boxed mix but knew it would turn out more like from scratch due to the change of ingredients from normal.  It was a very simple cake to make and was definitely more dense than a normal boxed cake would be.  It is very delicious, but very rich so serve with a large cold glass of milk!  The original recipe can be found on this site.  The only changes I made was to use two 8" pans instead of 9", baked for 30 minutes and covered the cake with more peanut butter cups than the recipe calls for.

American Sandwich Bread

Baked goods are a form of bribery in my house.  I use them as motivation to eat whatever is given to you for dinner and it works like a charm.  Want another slice of cornbread?  Feel free to have another once your zucchini is all gone.  Simple, non-combative and works 98% of the time!  
So when I served salads for dinner a few nights ago, I decided to try a new bread recipe as my bribery for the night.  I was pleasantly surprised with how easy this was to make and turned out absolutely perfect.  Sturdy loaf and pieces, while the bread itself was tender.  I made a double recipe and used the second loaf the following night for Monte Cristo sandwiches, which I will post soon.

American Sandwich Bread (makes one loaf)
3 3/4 C flour  *I used bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 C warm milk
1/3 C warm water
2 Tb unsalted butter, melted
3 Tb honey
1 Tb yeast

1.  Mix 3 1/2 C of the flour, yeast and the salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix the milk, water, butter, and honey in separate bowl.  Turn the machine on low and slowly add the liquid.  When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes.  If the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, one tablespoon at a time until the dough no longer sticks.  Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, about 5 more minutes.

2.  Form dough into a ball, place in lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until double, about 60 minutes.  Place dough on lightly floured surface and press into a square.  Roll the dough into a firm cylinder and pinch close the seam.  Place in a greased loaf pan, seam side down, cover and allow to rise until double, about 30  minutes.

3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until golden brown all over.  Remove bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before slicing.

Pecan Chicken Salad

About three years ago, five of my friends and I took a trip to Minneapolis together and we had a great time....well except for the fact that three of them were pregnant so I kept having to stop the car for them to pee, eat and puke all the time.  Of course, we ate ALOT that weekend but that is one of the great things about girlfriends, you can pig out together and not once feel guilty or inhibited by it!

I came across this salad in a restaurant on that trip and I just had to recreate it for my hubby when I got home because I knew he would love it as much as I did.  I don't have the restaurant's recipe, but this is pretty stinkin' close and I make it a bunch.  The dressing is outstanding and I use it on many different salads, but it is absolutely perfect matched with this one.  As far as the ingredients for the salad go, there is just a list for you.  Put on as much as you deem delicious for you!

Pecan Chicken Salad
Mixed salad greens (I like spring mix)
Mandarin oranges
Blue cheese
Grilled chicken breast
Candied pecans (instructions below)
Maple balsamic dressing (below)

1.  Candied pecans:  Toast chopped pecan pieces in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted.  Add a couple teaspoons of sugar sprinkled over the top and stir quickly.   Allow the sugar to melt, caramelize and coat the pecans.  Pour onto a small plate and allow to cool completely.

Maple Balsamic Dressing
1 medium shallot, finely minced
3/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tb real maple syrup (yes, real makes a difference!)
2 T aged balsamic vinegar
5-6 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I just dump it all in a small mason jar and shake it up!

Sandwich Braid

Ahhh, the joys of service projects.  Many members of the congregation from church spent much of the day on Saturday helping a widowed lady fix up her home, inside and out.  It looked like a new place by the time we were done and it was great to be working together.  I'm not sure I was planning on spending four hours weeding in one flower bed, but that is how long it took to get the job done right.  Luckily, everyone brought food for lunch and that provided a chance to load up on carbs to work the rest of the afternoon.
This recipe was my contribution to the meal, plus the bars from my last post.  This is a very simple recipe that can take on a million different variations depending on what you like.  Think of what types of food you like on sandwiches or subs and just throw it in!  I make it at least once a month for my family and there is never a scrap left.  The only actual "recipe" part is Martha Stewart's pizza dough recipe that I use as the crust.  Inside this particular braid is turkey, swiss, onion, green pepper, mayo, mustard, oil & vinegar, salt & pepper.  Again, use your imagination and go crazy with your fillings!

Pizza Dough by Martha Stewart
1/4 tsp sugar
1 T yeast
1 C warm water
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 C - 3 1/4 C flour

1.  Mix together yeast, sugar, water, oil and 1 C of flour in your mixer.  Allow yeast to activate, then add salt and enough remaining flour for a soft dough to form.  Knead in your mixer for 5 minutes.
2.  Cover dough and allow to rise until double.
3.  For sandwich braid, roll the dough into a long rectangle on a lightly dusted counter.  If the dough will not roll out, allow it to rest for 5 minutes and continue.
4.  Put desired toppings down the length of the rectangle leaving about 2 1/2 inches on each side of your toppings empty.  Using a butter knife, or bench scraper, cut slits into both sides of the empty dough space.  Width doesn't matter, but just try to have the same number on each side.  Starting at one end, stretch the first slit of dough across the toppings and push it down on the other side.  Take the dough slit from the opposite side, stretch it across the toppings and push it into the dough on the other side.  Repeat this alternating process down the length of the dough.
5.  Dust a jelly roll pan with cornmeal and put your braid on the pan.  Brush the braid with milk and sprinkle with a mixture of parmesan cheese and italian bread crumbs.  Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the crust is brown.

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

If you can't tell, I love looking for inspiration for new recipes to try in my kitchen.  I'm not great at coming up with something 100% completely original, but I am great at taking a basic idea/recipe and building it into my own.  I find no shame in admitting that and in fact, take great pride in being brave enough to change/experiment on my own.  Browsing through food blogs have been a great source for me over the past few months and the inspiration for this recipe came from a blog I frequent often.
Her recipe was for Strawberry Lemonade Bars and they looked amazing.  I didn't use her recipe, but just seeing the bars gave me the inspiration I needed to create these.  I have a lemon bar recipe from my mom that I have loved for years and I've made a few adjustments over time.  I knew they would be the perfect base for my experiment and they were.  If you can get past the odd color (most people thought they were made from rhubarb) they are a great twist on regular lemon bars.  I would like to try these with strawberries next time and see if mine look as good as the inspiration recipe.

Raspberry Lemonade Bars
2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 C unsalted butter
4 eggs
2 C sugar
1/3 C fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
zest of two lemons
1/4 C flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 C pureed raspberries (I used frozen ones from my garden)
**The addition of the raspberries is the only change I made to my lemon bar recipe

1.  Combine crust ingredients in your food processor and pulse until butter is well combined and in about pea size balls.  Pour into greased 9x13 pan, and press evenly across the bottom until the crust comes together.  Bake at 350 degrees until light brown, about 18 minutes.
2.  While crust bakes, combine filling ingredients and pour over the hot crust once it has baked.  Return it to the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  Allow bars to cool completely before cutting.  It helps to refrigerate the bars overnight if you have the time before cutting.

Mint Oreo Truffles

Chocolate and mint.  Out of all flavor combinations, it has to be my favorite as far as sweets are concerned.  It is also a very dangerous flavor to have in my home because I will eat it (whatever goodie form it is) and eat it until the realization sets in that I have to run 10 miles in the morning to burn the amount of calories I have just devoured.  So when I discovered a wonderful blog earlier this week and saw this recipe, it was all I could think about.  Just my luck that I got an invite to a party and there was the opportunity I had been wishing for all week to make these.

I couldn't believe how easy these were to throw together and they turned out very different than what I had anticipated.  They are very creamy on the inside (like a truffle) and not at all gritty from the Oreos.  It is a good thing these are going to the party tonight or I can guarantee I would have to be putting in a ton more work at the gym in the morning than normal.

Mint Oreo Truffles (makes 24)

1 pkg. Double Stuff Oreos - Cool Mint Flavor
*use 22 cookies with cream centers
*use 10 cookies with cream centers discarded
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
6 squares of chocolate bark

1.  Finely crush cookies in food processor.  Stir in softened cream cheese (your hand works best to knead it all together.)
2.  Roll the mixture into 1" balls.  A cookie scoop will help you have uniform sizes.  Place on wax paper lined cookie sheet.  Place in the freezer while you melt the chocolate to let them firm up a bit.
3.  Melt chocolate as directed on package.  Drop a ball into the chocolate and using a spoon, pour chocolate over it to cover it completely.  Scoop up the ball, tap and shake off the extra and set onto wax paper to dry.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


So last week while I was preparing dinner (Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps), my 8-year old son makes the following comment to me: "Mom, I remember when you used to make good stuff for dinner like french bread, scones and biscuits."  You see, I often use baked goods with my dinners as bribery to eat whatever main dish I have served that night.  If they want more bread, biscuit, muffin, etc. they have to finish the initial serving of everything on their plate.  It works like magic to get them to eat things they never would but I admit it had been awhile since I had done so.  So to make up for my lack of baked carbs during dinner, it was our main dish last night and the kids were absolutely ecstatic!
Now I know these don't look like scones to most people, but when you say the word in our house, this is what my kids expect.  They are basically fry bread but to make them a bit healthier, I cook them in a bit of shortening spread on my griddle instead of deep frying them.  I use my French Bread recipe but with just a bit less flour to make a softer dough and they are deliciously light and tender.  Just roll the recipe out to a thin square and use your bench scraper to cut them into rectangles.  We serve them with chili beans so there is some form of protein for the night.  My kids love them dipped in cinnamon powdered sugar, honey or raspberry freezer jam.

Pasta with Chicken & Artichokes

Last night was one of those nights.  I was exhausted, crabby and short-tempered.  Everything I had done that day had gone wrong, it was completely hectic all day long and I was just done by the time came to make dinner.  I was so tempted to tell my hubby to pick up something on his way home, but I decided against it and drug myself into the kitchen to start dinner.

I was hoping this new recipe was going to make my day all better by being outstanding, but it was just good.  It is one of those recipes that has great potential if I were to play with it a bit, (like more veggies and herbs) but at the end of the day I had just had, I needed something outstanding.  I just ate some leftovers for lunch and I think it is better on day two, or maybe it is just because I don't feel like melting into a pile of goo today.....

Pasta with Chicken & Artichokes (serves 4)
from Cooks Country April/May 2006
4 Tb unsalted butter
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1/4" slices
14 oz jar artichoke hearts, rinsed, dried and cut into thin wedges
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp flour
1 1/4 C chicken broth
1 C freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta
salt and pepper

1.  Cook your pasta according to package directions.   Meanwhile, melt 1 Tb butter in large skillet over high heat until foaming subsides.  Cook chicken in single layer without stirring for 1-2 minutes.  When the chicken lets go from the pan, then stir and cook until no longer pink.  Transfer to a bowl.
2.  Lower heat to medium and melt 1 Tb butter in a pan.  Cook artichokes until lightly browned, scraping the bottom to get the bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add flour and cook for 30 seconds.  Add broth and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-7 minutes.   Stir in remaining 2 Tb butter, parmesan, lemon juice, parsley and chicken.  Add salt and pepper according to taste.
3.  Drain pasta, reserving some cooking water.  Add pasta to sauce, and toss with chicken mixture, moistening with reserved water as needed.  Serve