Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Improved Recipes

While creating my menu planning system, I came across some recipes that I really wanted to include, but the way they were posted online definitely needed some improving according to all the comments people had listed below the recipe.  Sooooo... I'm just going to re-post a few recipes here, with the changes they needed to make them better.

No-Fail Pecan Pie (Adapted from this recipe)
This recipe really, really works.  No more soupy, burnt-crust, foam on top pecan pies!  My friend Steve says this is the best homemade pecan pie he's ever had, and it's his favorite dessert.


1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. white corn syrup (Karo)
5 large eggs, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. pecans, chopped
1 cup pecan halves for decoration (you'll want to use nice un-broken ones)
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 325F.

Brush the pie crust with one of the egg’s whites (save its yolk for a later step) and bake 5 minutes to seal crust; remove from oven.

Place the chopped pecans on the bottom of the pie crust.

In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved, letting it slowly boil down quite a bit, as though you were taking candy to the soft ball sage—when it’s volcanic throughout, it’s done. Now cool the mixture by putting the pan into a sink full of ice water and letting it sit there until warm.  (Repeat with ice water a second time).

While that’s getting cold, to a bowl, add the other four eggs and the yolk from the first egg, vanilla extract, and salt; blend well. Mix carefully with a fork--do not use a whisk or a mixer, to avoid creating bubbles. Skim off any foam that formed.

Pour the egg mixture into the cooled sugar mixture, which will be really thick now, and stir as best as you can.  Put pan back on stove and heat till all blended and liquefied.  If some of the egg gets solid (scrambled) just pour your mixture through a sieve. 

Pour the filling mixture over the crust filled with pecans, filling the crust to about ½ and inch from the top of the crust, then discard any extra filling.  Pop any bubbles that formed on the top.

Lay the pecan halves in concentric circles on top of the filling. Cover the crust's edges entirely with tinfoil and leave in on the whole baking time.  The crust will brown lightly anyway.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Do not over bake!

Claim Jumper Copycat Bread  adapted from this recipe
Makes 6 slices of toast or half a loaf of French bread

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 dash ground black pepper
1 dash paprika
6 slices Texas toast or half of a large horizontally cut French bread loaf

Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine all ingredients for the spread in a small bowl. Smear spread generously on one side of each slice of Texas toast or on the face of the loaf half.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese begins to brown and bubble.

Restaurant-Style Re-fried Beans originally posted here

Makes 3 cups

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 (15.5 ounces each) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 ounces salt pork, rind removed and diced very small  OR 2 T of lard OR bacon grease
1 small onion, chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 small cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (optional)

1. Process broth and all but 1 cup of beans in food processor until smooth, about 15 seconds, scraping sides of bowl with rubber spatula if necessary. Add remaining beans and process until slightly chunky, about ten 1-second pulses.
2. If using salt pork: Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add salt pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and pork is well browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer pork to small bowl with slotted spoon and set aside (you should have about 2 tablespoons of fat left in skillet.)
If using bacon grease or lard: Heat the oil and the grease or lard in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until melted.
3. Increase heat to medium-high; add onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans and stir until thoroughly combined. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lime juice, if using, and serve.
If you don’t want to use canned pinto beans, then you can make your own pinto beans from scratch by boiling dry beans.

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto  
(slightly adapted from The Great American Eat-Right Cookbook)
Serves: 6   Total prep time: 45 minutes   About 7 grams of fat per serving

5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 bunch asparagus, cut into one inch pieces, tough pieces removed
        (approximately 2 cups)
1 pound shrimp: peeled, de-tailed, de-veined, and defrosted (so only the
        edible parts are cooked)
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley, preferably fresh
2 T thinly sliced chives
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium sized saucepan, bring the broth to a light simmer.  Cover and keep warm over very low heat.  In a large skillet with high sides or a heavy and large sauce pan or stock pot over medium heat, add oil.  Saute rice for 1 minute. Add wine and stir until almost completely absorbed. Begin adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently.  Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding more, 3 to 5 minutes for each addition.  After 20 minutes, add asparagus and shrimp.  Stir to combine and prevent sticking.  Continue to add broth two more times, or until the risotto has a creamy texture but is still slightly firm to the bite.  You might not need to use all of the liquid.  Stir parsley, chives, and cheese into the risotto.  Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Cheese or garlic bread and a salad make great sides with this.

Chicken or Mushroom Stuffed Shells   Serves 6-8
I modified this recipe to make a vegetarian version for a friend of mine, and it actually tasted better with the mushrooms than with the chicken!  Here's the link to the original recipe.
1 box of large or jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
8oz cream cheese, softened in the microwave
1 jar of store-bought marinara sauce
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese, plus 1/4 cup of freshly grated
       Parmesan for topping (you can use the green-can kind, but only for the
6 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store-bought)
3 baskets of sliced mushrooms OR 2 cups leftover or canned cooked chicken
4 T butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.  Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in the butter until done.

In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping and the marinara sauce. Fill the pasta shells with the filling by using a cookie scoop and place in a baking dish.  Pour the marinara sauce over everything.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the filled shells.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells covered with tinfoil for 20-30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and the cheese melts.

Hawaiian Sweet Rolls in the Bread Machine   (original recipe is here)
Yield 20 rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 tablespoons butter flavored shortening
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  1. Place ingredients in bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle for a 2 pound batch; press Start. The dough can be a bit sticky, so you may want to add a little bit more bread flour as it mixes.
  2. When the dough cycle is complete, turn the risen dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide into twenty equal pieces. Form the pieces into rounds and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Poblano Chile Cornbread adapted from these two recipes:
Jiffy Jalapeno Corn Bread  &  Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

1 box of jiffy cornbread mix
3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T white vinegar
1/2 cup sour cream
half of a poblano chile pepper, diced small, seeds removed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased 11 x 7 glass pan.  Cover with saran wrap and let sit on the counter for 20 minutes to rise.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

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