Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

A delicious pumpkin cake, rolled up and filled with a rich cream cheese filling. It's surprisingly simple and easy to make!


Today is Columbus Day and I've had a wonderful day off at home. It's been rainy here the last couple of days, so it's been the perfect weather to stay in and get some things done. I now have a clean house, dinner in the crock pot, and a freshly baked pumpkin roll to enjoy for dessert.

I have not had a pumpkin roll in a long time and I decided it was time to resurrect this recipe. Pumpkin recipes are all over the internet and food blogs right now. I like traditional pumpkin recipes (pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, etc.) but I don't get as creative with pumpkin as I have seen other bloggers do. So you will  see a few pumpkin recipes from me this fall, but nothing too nontraditional.



Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

Ingredients

Cake:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar 

Filling:
  • 1-8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash or two of salt
  • Powdered sugar for decorating, optional
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a Jelly Roll pan with shortening and line with parchment paper. Grease and flour the parchment paper. Sprinkle a thin, dish towel with powdered sugar.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set Aside. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until thick and creamy. Beat in pumpkin puree.

3. Pour batter into pan and bake for 13-15 or until the top of the cake springs back when touched with finger or toothpick (cake may bake faster if using a dark, non-stick pan). Remove from oven and loosen cake around the edges with knife. Immediately turn cake onto prepared towel. Starting with the narrow end, roll up cake and towel together. Cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Using a stand or hand mixer, whip together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar and salt and whip on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

5. Carefully unroll cake and evenly spread filling over the cake. Roll cake back up and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Decorate with additional powdered sugar, if desired.


Slightly Adapted from Libby's

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Freshly baked chicken, tossed with grapes, celery, red onion, and a delicious homemade dressing. These sandwiches are perfect for a party or a way to dress up your weekly lunch routine!


I originally got this recipe for chicken salad sandwiches from my mom. She received the original recipe from a friend several years ago and made her own changes to the recipe. I have since made adjustments to my mom's version. I remember when I first saw the recipe, it sounded like such a strange combination. Chicken, grapes, red onion, celery and walnuts all mixed together with mayo and other seasonings/condiments. Once I took a bite I was hooked. The salad is so fresh tasting and satisfyingly filling with all the protein and fresh fruit/veggies. The addition of walnuts adds a nice crunch to the salad. I sometimes omit the walnuts if I am taking these sandwiches to a get together (just in case someone is allergic). The sandwiches still taste great with or without them.



I hosted a baby shower over the weekend for my sister-in-law. I kept the menu relatively simple: Chicken salad sandwiches, fruit salad, a veggie tray, Mexican tortilla pinwheels (made by my Mother-in-law) and a chocolate cake. Most everything I was able to make ahead of time and finish preparing the day of. I did prepare this chicken salad that morning, as I don't like it too chilled (the chicken tastes best when it is still fresh) but it does keeps well if you need to make it ahead of time.


The recipe is relatively simple. Simply, baked up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Cut the chicken into small cubes and toss with celery, red onion, and red grapes. For the dressing mix together: mayonnaise, cream cheese, Dijon mustard and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the chicken and stir until coated. You may need to add a little more mayonnaise if it looks dry. I always prefer to start with the smallest amount possible and go from there.

I like to serve the chicken salad on a nice, buttery croissant roll. Cut in half or smaller desired portions and secure the sandwich with a toothpick. These little sandwiches are perfect for a baby/wedding shower or nice luncheon.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Ingredients
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 4 cups cooked (3 if they are large, 4 if they are smaller in size)
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay chicken breasts on baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Pound chicken breasts until even thickness. Remove plastic wrap, discard. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with a little salt. Bake chicken for about 20 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and allow chicken to rest for about 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Cut chicken into cubes. Cooked chicken should measure about 4 cups.

2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, grapes, celery, and red onion. In a smaller bowl, mix together the mayo, cream cheese, Dijon, and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the chicken and toss to coat. If needed, add more mayo to desired consistency.

3. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Taste before serving and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Serve on croissants or desired bread of choice.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Oven Barbequed Chicken Legs

Oven roasted chicken covered in tangy barbeque sauce. A quick and easy main course that is ready in 30 minutes!


I hesitated to post this recipe because of it's overly simple nature. But then, I think of how some of the simple, good recipes are hard to come by. It's so easy to fill my recipe box with dinner ideas that take one, two, or even three hours to prepare. That time frame isn't possible for a busy weeknight--I have to have a good repertoire of easy, go-to meals.

So today I am sharing with you oven barbeque chicken. You can follow the same recipe and cook the chicken on a barbeque grill if you wish. I prefer the oven because I think it's more time consuming to prepare our grill (we have a charcoal grill) so I opt to do my "barbequing" inside.

Chicken legs are one of my favorite cuts of the chicken and they are relatively inexpensive. So I think they make a great low-budget and fast meal. Growing up, my favorite meals my mom prepared was her homemade fried chicken. My mom would cut a whole chicken, fry it and serve it with mashed potatoes and gravy. We are a family of five, so that meant we ate every piece of chicken and sometimes we didn't get a choice of what cut we got. My brothers and I often fought over the legs--our favorite piece out of them all. Since there were three of us, and only two legs, that meant someone would miss out. Mom would often make us take turns on who got the leg. If you missed out that time, you would get a leg the next time she fixed fried chicken. As we got older (and...ate more) she would generally buy an extra package of chicken legs and fix them. Everyone got a leg (or two) and was happy. I guess I've always preferred the leg because dark meat is more tender and flavorful. I tend to fix a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts out of convenience and simplicity, but I think the dark meat is the best cut.

This recipe takes very little prep work. While the oven is heating up, clean up the chicken legs as needed--you can leave the skin on or remove it. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper (season under the skin as well) and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet (the foil makes for easy clean up). Always allow meat to sit for at least 5-10 minutes after salting because it allows the salt to absorb into the meat and tenderize and season it. Once the oven is to temperature, pop the chicken in the oven onto the middle rack and allow the chicken to cook until it's almost cooked through. Remove the chicken about five minutes away from done time. Brush on your favorite barbeque sauce and return it to the oven. Be generous with the sauce--it will bake and caramelize so you need a good amount. Serve with extra barbeque sauce if desired.

And there you have it, easy barbeque chicken in under thirty minutes!

Oven Barbeque Chicken Legs

Ingredients 
  • 2 lbs, skin-on chicken legs
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt*
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2-1/3 cup barbeque sauce, store bought or homemade
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil, set aside. Remove chicken legs from package and trim away any excess fat or skin. Remove skin if desired or leave intact. Lightly season with salt and pepper--if leaving the skin on, carefully peel the skin back, season with salt and pepper and then lay the skin back in place. Arrange legs on baking sheet, spacing two inches apart.

2. Bake chicken legs for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush chicken with barbeque sauce using a pastry brush. About one heaping tablespoon per leg. Return to oven and bake an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is done. To test chicken with a kitchen thermometer. Insert thermometer into chicken leg as close to the bone as possible without touching the bone. Fully cooked chicken should register 165 degrees. Serve chicken with additional barbeque sauce, if desired.

*Measurements for salt and pepper are approximate. I always grab a little using my fingers and lightly and evenly sprinkle over the meat. It really doesn't take much to season well. However, I am a low salt cook, so if you feel it needs more, add more. Just keep in mind that the barbeque sauce will add some seasoning as well.

Yields: 4-5 Servings (two chicken legs a piece)