Monday, April 27, 2009

Focaccia Breadsticks

I made these breadsticks for the first time last week. We were having Cajun Chicken Alfredo and I wanted to try something besides just regular breadsticks. These turned out well and I thought they were very tasty! I actually got the recipe out of my Betty Crocker cookbook. They suggest serving them with a bit of olive oil and shredded Parmesan for dipping. I did try that and it was good. But, of course if you've got your homemade alfredo sauce.... might as well let them take a dip in that!

_ 2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
_2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 tbsp dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
_ 1 tablespoon sugar
_ 1 teaspoon salt
_ 1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
_ 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
_ 1 cup warm water
_ grated Parmesan cheese

1. Mix 1 cup of the flour, the rosemary, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil and the warm water. Beat with electric mixer (or stand mixer... I use my kitchen aid) on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl.

2. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy(I just let my kitchen aid do the kneading for me with the kneading hook....). Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until almost double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3. Grease 2 cookie sheets with shortening or oil.

4. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (who cares if they aren't perfectly equal...). Roll and shape each piece into 9 to 12-inch rope, sprinkling with flour if dough is too sticky. Place 1/2 inch apart on cookie sheets.

5. Lightly brush the top of each bread stick with olive oil.Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

6. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

7. Cover breadsticks loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise in warm place about 20 minutes or until almost double.

8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Homemade Coconut Ice Cream

A simple, easy, but tasty alternative to your normal vanilla.

2 cups heavy or whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup half-and-half

1 can (15 ounces) coconut cream or coconut milk (sometimes I can't find coconut cream at the grocery store... but coconut milk is usually there in the asian section of your grocery store)

Pour the cream into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the half-and-half and coconut milk and whisk to blend.
Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

Top ice cream with toasted coconut and fresh diced mango.


Lettuce Wraps (like at PF Changs....mmmmmm)

(Disclaimer: I didn't take this picture, nor do I know if it is an actual picture of PF Changs Lettuce Wraps.... but, I took no pictures, therefore this will have to do)

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (you should be able to get this in the Asian section at your grocery store)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine for cooking
(if you don't have it, substitue with chicken broth or some other cooking wine. Or, if you really want, just leave it out)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
(Sometimes it will say "oyster flavored sauce." Same thing. Also should be found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
(Asian section of your grocery store)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons cooking rice wine (if you don't have access to this, you can use any type of cooking wine.... or you can just leave it out)
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced very small
5 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup green onions, minced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms
, minced
(you can really use any type of mushrooms if you don't have access to shiitakes.)
1 (8 ounce) can bamboo shoots, minced
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, minced
1 (6 ounce) package chinese cellophane noodles, cooked to pkg. directions
(I have yet to actually do the cellophane noodles yet... I always forget....I think they are perfectly good without)
Iceburg lettuce leaves, washed and taken off the head but left whole

soy sauce
rice vinegar
hoisin sauce
chinese hot mustard (Asian section of grocery store)
chili paste or chili garlic paste (ditto)

1) Mix all ingredients for "cooking sauce" and set aside.
2) In medium bowl, combine marinade ingredients and mix well. Add chicken and stir to coat thoroughly. Stir in 1 t. oil and let sit for 15 minutes.

3) Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 T. oil, then add chicken and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

4) Add 2 T. oil to the pan. Add ginger, garlic, and onion and stir-fry for a minute or so. Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and stir-fry an additional 2 minutes. Return chicken to the pan. Add mixed cooking sauce to the pan. Cook until thickened and hot.
5) Break cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces and cover bottom of serving dish with them. Then pour chicken mixture on top of noodles. Serve along side lettuce leaves for everyone to take what they want, and then spoon into lettuce leaf and roll (like a burrito) individually themselves.

6) If you want to do dipping sauce, place all the dipping sauce ingredients out on the table. Give each person a small dish or plate and allow everyone to mix their own sauce to their own liking! The sauce can either be drizzled onto the contents of your lettuce wrap, or you can dip your lettuce wrap into it.