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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sausage & Mushroom Puff Pie

As I said in my last post, I planned on using my second piece of puff pastry for something savory. After making and tasting this today, I decided to do a second entry in the Pepperidge Farm 1,2,3 Puff! contest in the Main Dish category.

I think this recipe would work well as a main dish for any meal. I would pair it with fresh fruit for breakfast, a light salad for lunch, or maybe steamed veggies for dinner. Also, I ate my serving today at room temperature. I think that helped some of the flavors, especially the thyme and Dijon mustard, come through a little more.

This recipe definitely has a longer ingredient list than my Salted Chocolate Orange Croissants, but it was almost as easy to prepare.

Stay tuned to find out if I placed in the contest! The winner will be announced January 15 and will receive an all expenses paid trip for two to NYC, including a tour of NYC’s acclaimed pastry shops. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

Sausage & Mushroom Puff Pie
* a Rachel ♥s Food creation*
serves 8

- 2 sheets Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
- 2 t. olive oil
- 8 oz. white mushrooms, roughly chopped
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 8 oz. mild bulk pork or turkey sausage
- ½ t. salt
- ½ t. black pepper
- ¼ t. red pepper flakes
- ½ t. dried thyme
- 2 T. Dijon mustard
- 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 T. water)
- coarse salt and black pepper

To make filling:
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic and cook until browned. Add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces, and cook until sausage is browned and cooked through. Drain off any fat, and then stir in salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and thyme.
Set aside to cool slightly.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush on Dijon mustard, leaving a 1 inch border all around the pastry. Top with sausage mixture and shredded cheese. Brush the border with egg wash.
Lightly roll out the 2nd piece of puff pastry (so it will cover the filling and meet the 1 in. border) and lay over the sausage and cheese filling. Lightly press so the edges will stick together. Trim any uneven edges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
Brush the entire pie with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt and black pepper. Use a sharp knife to cut three small slits in the top of the pastry to vent steam.

To bake and serve:
Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let the pie sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Cut into squares or strips and serve.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Salted Chocolate Orange Croissants


Hi everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas. I was very excited and happy to receive a new laptop from my parents and hope to have more regular posts from now on! It was very difficult to have both my laptop and desktop crash in the last two months.

A few weeks ago, I received a coupon for a free package of puff pastry through the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program and Pepperidge Farm. These coupons were sent out so members could enter the 1,2,3, Puff! recipe contest, and here is my entry.

I absolutely love croissants, especially chocolate ones, but don’t buy packages of them that often because they go stale quickly. I also love combinations of chocolate and orange (the only fruit/chocolate combination I do enjoy, oddly enough) and thought it would be a nice surprise inside a pastry. The “salted” part of it was inspired by one of my favorite chocolate bars, Lindt’s A Touch of Sea Salt, and the idea of a sweet/salty balance within the dish.

These were quite simple to prepare. Now the hard part is not eating them all tonight!

Also, I only made half of a recipe of these for us, but wrote the recipe to use an entire box of puff pastry. I plan on using the remaining sheet on a savory dish later in the week.

Salted Chocolate Orange Croissants
*a Rachel ♥s Food creation*
makes 24 small croissants

- 2 sheets Pepperidge Farms puff pastry
- 2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
- zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 t. flaky sea salt, divided
- 2 T. butter, melted

1. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions and unfold onto a cutting board.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Cut each pastry sheet into 12 triangles, like so:

croissant grid

4. Brush the pastry triangles with 1/2 of the melted butter.

5. Mix the chocolate, orange zest, and 1/4 t. salt in a small bowl, then place 1/2 t, of the mixture into the center of each triangle.

6. Roll the croissants, starting with the wide end and seal edges around the chocolate.

7. Place croissants onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

8. Brush the tops of the croissants with the remaining butter and sprinkle with the remaining salt.

9. Bake for 10 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

10. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mint Chocolate Eggnog

I created this recipe a couple weeks ago to enter the Eggland's Best Holiday Recipe contest hosted by Tina at Carrots n' Cake. Sadly I did not win anything, but Scott really enjoyed it and has requested more! Eggnog is one of his favorite treats, and he has already had two whole quarts of it this holiday season. Add this to his love of ANYTHING chocolate and mint, and I think we have a winner in our house.

Mint Chocolate Eggnog
makes 14 - ½ c. servings

4 large eggs
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder + extra for garnish
¼ t. salt
1 quart + 1 c. reduced fat milk
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. pure peppermint extract
1 c. heavy whipping cream
Soft peppermint sticks (optional)

1. Whisk eggs, sugar, cocoa, salt, 1 c. milk, and both extracts in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for approximately 5 minutes until thick and foamy. Set aside and let cool.

2. Strain egg mixture (to remove all solids) into a pitcher and stir in 1 quart milk.

3. Whip heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the eggnog mixture and serve.

Optional: Dust with cocoa powder and serve with soft peppermint sticks, if desired.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Baked Potato Soup

After making the stuffed potato skins last week, I found myself with a Tupperware container full of baked potatoes in the refrigerator and nothing to do with them. Since I am making a conscious effort not to throw food away, I knew I needed to create something.

The weekend ended up being very cold and rainy, and what is better to eat during bad weather than a hot bowl of soup? After checking what was available in my pantry, this is what I used:

Quick Baked Potato Soup

1 quart fat-free & low sodium chicken broth
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. half and half
1 t. black pepper
1 t. paprika
2 c. chopped baked potatoes (approximately)

Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions and crumbled bacon (I used the pre-cooked microwaveable kind to keep it simple.)

- Whisk the cornstarch, sour cream, and half and half with a small amount of chicken broth.

- Stir the cornstarch mixture and the remaining chicken broth into a large pot and heat to boiling (it must boil briefly for the cornstarch to thicken the liquid).

- Turn the heat to medium low, stir in the potatoes, and let simmer until the potatoes are heated through and the soup is thickened.

- Top with the cheese, scallions, and bacon.

This recipe was quick, satisfying, and filling for a very small amount of work. The only downside is that the leftovers become extremely thick after refrigeration. If you try this recipe and have leftovers, make sure you have some extra stock on hand to thin it back out when reheating.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

CEiMB: Broccoli & Cheddar Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Cream


Hi everyone! It’s been awhile. I know I haven’t posted in several weeks, and I’ll keep the sob story short: basically, my laptop crashed and my job is killing me. Just kidding! I love my job, but it does take a lot out of me. However, I have been cooking and photographing, just not posting. Hopefully I will come back from the upcoming Christmas break (yay, two weeks off) refreshed and ready to do some more consistent blogging!

I wanted to come back with this CEiMB pick because I remember seeing it on the list awhile back and thinking that it sounded great! This week we made Broccoli & Cheddar Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Cream, and this recipe was hosted by Anne at Rainforest Recipes.

One of the reasons I was looking forward to this recipe is that is incorporates broccoli, something that Scott and I eat 3-4 times a week. In fact, I think it has made several appearances in the background of other recipe pictures in my posts. We enjoy broccoli, but eating it steamed with a light sprinkling of salt every time gets old.

Like several of the Ellie Krieger recipes we have made in the past, I found this one to have a lot of steps and resulted in a large pile of dirty dishes. It was worth it, though, because these potato skins were quite tasty! The only changes I made were to use real bacon instead of Canadian bacon and to add the lime zest to the avocado cream in addition to the juice.

Isn’t my prep board for the avocado cream lovely? I thought all of those beautiful shades of green deserved their own picture.

The avocado cream was very good, and I would like to use it as a substitute for traditional guacamole in the future. I also want to make the cream again with a ripe avocado – I waited until today to purchase one and all of the ones at the grocery store were quite under ripe – because my version today never really came together in the food processor.

Thanks to Anne for a great pick! I plan on adding this one to my regular rotation for some variety with my vegetable side dishes.

On another note, Miss Shelby has proven herself to be the perfect dog for a foodie owner. We have not been giving her human food at all, but when I dropped a piece of cilantro on the floor today, she snapped it right up and looked for more!

Isn’t she growing quickly? She’s so cute!