Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blue Cheese Dressing and BLT Salad

Husband approved "man salad"
Salad dressing is one of those things that I really hate to serve out of the bottle.  All the stabilizers, sweeteners and additives, ick!  Homemade dressings are so easy, and so quick, and made out of things you probably already have in your pantry - there's really no reason not to always have homemade.  Here's my version of blue cheese dressing - tangy, peppery, and creamy.

I never measure salad dressing, so I hope this approximations works. I used a large spoon out of my regular silverware for measuring these scoops.

Simple ingredients make for a super tasty dressing.

  • 4 heaping scoops of regular mayonnaise 
  • 3 heaping scoops of non-fat greek yogurt 
  • 4 dashes* of white wine vinegar
  • 4 dashes* hot sauce (Franks red hot, texas pete or tabasco work best)
  • 2 dashes* Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Generous amount of fresh ground pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • A bunch of blue cheese, at least 1/2 cup - I used the already crumbled blue cheese

*By dash - I mean a shake through a controlled bottle top.  If your bottles have open tops, just put your thumb over the top to control the flow, and shake away.

Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors marry.

I used this dressing to make a Blue BLT salad for the the hubby and me for lunch. Just combine non-cured applewood smoked bacon, baby lettuces, and grape tomatoes with a bit of thinly sliced shallot, and some dollops of the blue cheese dressing with a little extra blue cheese on top.  Add a couple of slices of this homemade bread on the side, and you've got a super tasty and super fast lunch. The addition of grilled chicken would make this even better, or take it one step further and add chopped hard boiled egg and you've got a Cobb.

Homemade Bread, take 2

This went perfectly with my husband's homemade red sauce. 
It's been over a year since the last time I made it, but this bread recipe is just too good - it deserves an encore.  This time, I made it with regular all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour, and as much as I hate to admit it, the regular flour version was yummier..... truly like a rustic loaf that you'd buy at a bakery, crusty, airy, and oh-so-good.  I still had to add a little bit of extra water because my dough came out a bit too dry, but other than that, the recipe is spot on.

I hope you give it a try!

Christmas Morning Sticky Buns

If this is wrong, I don't want to be right.
While I love to cook, I really don't do much baking.  Perhaps it's my desire to 'wing it' with nearly all recipes that repels me. A novice really can't improvise when baking - you have to follow recipes very closely, or all those magic chemical reactions that turn seemingly lackluster ingredients into something spectacular, just won't happen.

I make an exception to my no-baing rule when Christmas comes around. I like to make a variety of cookies and pastries, and this year I added a new one to the repertoire - Sticky Buns.  My dad used to always make some sort of sweet baked good on Christmas morning (his sour cream coffee cake can't be beat!), so I had a hankering to make something for the husband and me to enjoy and sticky buns just seemed like a good idea.

This is a recipe by Bobby Flay, and in typical Flay Fashion, it incorporates honey and citrus.  While these did take quite awhile from start to finish, there wasn't really anything tricky to them. And wow, they were SO good, definitely worth it.  My dad would definitely approve.

Sticky Buns a lá Bobby Flay
  • Softened butter for bowls and baking pan
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup light muscavado sugar (I just used used brown sugar since I didn't have this fancy one on hand)
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (I opted for pecans, since the hubs and I like them better, even though almonds probably mesh better with the other ingredients)
For the dough:
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk (not hot, just warm)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 8 tablesppons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • (I also added a teensy bit of ground clove and nutmeg)
Hot out of the oven! Somewhat
different sizes, but they still taste great
For the glaze:
Combine all ingredients except nuts in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil until slightly thickened. Pour the glaze into a buttered 13x9 glass baking dish, and then scatter the nuts over the top.  Cover, and set aside.

For the dough:
Sprinkle yeast over warm milk with a pinch of granulated sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Melt 1/3 cup butter and whisk into yeast with vanilla and egg yolk.

Whisk the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in yeast mixture to make a sticky dough.  Knead the dough on a floured work surface until soft and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes. Shape into a ball, brush with a little melted butter, and put into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Knead the dough and reform into a ball. Return to the bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours. 
In the dish, and ready to rise  for the last time
For the filling and assembly:
Roll the dough into a 10 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread soft butter over the surface. Whisk 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together, scatter over butter.  Roll into a long tight cylinder, pinch long edge to seal (my roll came out slightly thicker in the middle due to some lame rolling pin skills, but it was still fine!). Cut into 1 1/2 inch rolls with string or dental floss. Evenly space the rolls in the pan, over and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 half hours (I let them rise for 1 1/2 hours, and then covered them and refrigerated them so I could bake them first thing in the morning). 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Right before you bake them, brush with a little bit of melted butter. 

Bake until golden, 30-35 minutes.  Rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, unmold an serve warm.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gramma's Chicken Dijon

Gramma and Papa on their wedding day - how cute are they??
Also,  day one of the Eating Keatings family!  
This recipe is an oldy but goody in my family.  Originally done by my grandmother, who is an amazing cook. While she doesn't cook anymore, in her time, she was hard to beat! She instilled the whole family with a love of food and a love of sharing it with one another.

This is a recipe that she would always make when lots of family was visiting - it's tasty, super quick to whip up, and also freezes wonderfully.  I hadn't made this for years, and I'm so glad I've rediscovered it tonight. The smell brought me right back to my childhood evenings on 122 Pine Street.

Besides the small amount of mayo and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, this is a relatively healthy dish, that still really satisfies the comfort food taste buds. The hubs went wild for it.  Hope you like it too!


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed up)
  • 1 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonaise
  • 2 T smooth dijon mustar)
  • 1 T worcestershire sauce (lee & perrins is best!)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup dried white wine
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional for a little kick)
  • S&P
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

My dijon of choice.
Grey Poupon is also good.
Place your chicken in a greased baking dish, and sprinkle with a little fresh cracked pepper and salt.

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Season with S&P to taste. Pour over the chicken breasts to coat well, and bake covered with foil for 45 minutes.  When 45 minutes is up, remove the foil, sprinkle the top of the chicken with a little bit of parmesan cheese, and broil until golden brown and bubbly. Let rest for a few minutes, and serve.

This is accompanied nicely by rice and some sort of green veggie.  I made brussels sprouts tonight - I'll share that recipe soon.

Happy eating!