Friday, January 31, 2014

Girlfriend's Lunch Menu

Girlfriend's Lunch Menu

Mixed Greens with Bacon, Red Grapes and Sugared Walnuts

with Honey-Sesame Dijon Dressing

Butternut Squash Bisque

Buttery Soft Rolls

Chicken Salad on Buttery Soft Rolls

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Pink Heart Sugar Cookies

Mixed Greens with Bacon, Red Grapes and Sugared Walnuts

12 cups assorted lettuce and spinach
1 bunch green onions, sliced whites only
2 green apples, cored and thinly sliced or chopped
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
½ cup sugared walnuts
2/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
8 slices cooked thick sliced apple-wood bacon, crumbled

Assemble lettuce in large salad bowl or platter. Toss remaining ingredients over the top. Drizzle dressing over the top just before serving.  Gently toss.

Honey- Sesame Dijon Dressing

6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (sauté a few minutes in dry skillet until lightly browned)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together except the oil. Drizzle oil into dressing while whisking until smooth. Pour desired amount over salad and gently toss, be careful not to add too much dressing..

      Sugared Walnuts

2 cups walnut halves
6 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoons salt
                              1 tablespoon canola oil                                 

In small pot bring 4 cups of water to boil. Stir in nuts. Remove from heat. Let sit 3 minutes. Drain and dry. Mix sugar and salt in a bowl and toss with hot nuts. Add oil to nuts and stir. Spread on baking sheet in a single layer. Allow to dry for one hour. Bake at 350 until golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and toss nuts with spatula. Cool. When cool and dry store in air- tight container.

Butternut Squash Bisque
(This bisque can be made a day in advance.)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4-6 cups chicken broth
½ cup cream or half and half
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
handful of fresh sage or basil, minced

Place all of the vegetables on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and roast at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  In large pot melt butter and sauté roasted vegetables 5 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken broth, honey and sage. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Puree soup with stick blender until smooth.  Or puree the soup in small batches in a blender.  Be sure not to fill the blender more than 1/4 full to prevent hot soup blowing out the lid.  Return soup to pot and add cream and salt and pepper to taste. If bisque is too thick add more chicken broth and or cream to reach desired consistency. Garnish with sage leaves and grated Parmesan.

Buttery Soft Rolls 
(These can be made a day in advance if necessary.  They will still be soft and delicious.)
3 ½ cups  warm water
4 tablespoons yeast
¾ cup oil
¾ cup sugar
1 cup powdered milk
1 ½ cups potato flakes
1 tablespoon salt
3 eggs (room temp.)
10 cups flour, plus more if needed

Dissolve yeast in warm water in bowl of electric mixer.  Add oil and eggs.  Add remaining ingredients and mix for 10 minutes. Let rise to double.  Divide dough into three or four equal portions. For larger rolls, divide dough into 3 equal portions, for smaller rolls divide dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll out each portion into a circle, about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut with a pizza cutter, as you would a pizza, into 16 wedges. Roll each wedge up starting at the wide side.  Set rolls on greased baking sheet. You should be able to get about 16 rolls per baking sheet. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with bakers spray and cover rolls. Allow rolls to double in size.  Bake at 350 for 11-15 minutes or until light golden brown.  Brush rolls with melted butter or gently rub hot rolls with a stick of butter for a glossy look. Fill half of these rolls with the chicken salad and leave the other half of the rolls whole.  Recipe will make 48 large rolls and 64 petite rolls.

Chicken Salad on Buttery Soft Roll
(The Chicken Salad can be made a day in advance.  Assemble the sandwiches just before serving.)
4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup halved red grapes
¼ cup onion, finely minced
bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine chicken, celery, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl. Set aside. In another bowl combine mayonnaise, cream, bouillon granules, sugar, salt and pepper.  Mix well. Fold whipped mixture into chicken mixture.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and a sprinkle of more bouillon granules if needed.  Slice Buttery Soft Rolls in half and place a spoonful of chicken salad inside.  Add a piece of bib lettuce or a slice of avocado if desired. Season with fresh ground pepper. 

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

11.5 ounce bag milk chocolate chips,(Ghirardelli and Guittard are my favorite)
2 tablespoon shortening
30 large ripe strawberries with stems attached

Melt chocolate chips and shortening in the top of a double boiler.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Dip ¾ of strawberry into melted chocolate and lay on parchment lined baking sheet to dry. Place in a cooler area and allow chocolate to set.

Pink Heart Sugar Cookies
(These need to be made a day in advance.)

5 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sour cream

 In large bowl, sift flour, soda and salt together and set aside.  In electric mixer cream sugar, butter and eggs.  Add vanilla and beat.  Add sour cream and beat.  Add flour mixture and blend well.   Place mixed dough in a gallon sized freezer bag and compact dough in side of bag.  Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.  Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on counter top.  Lightly flour it.  Cut chilled dough into quarters, or better yet eighths. ( It's much easier to roll smaller portions of dough out than larger portions. )  Try to cut dough in a flatter shape as opposed to a round shape of dough (which will make it easier to roll out flat). Place dough on plastic wrap and turn over to flour both sides of dough.  Roll dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap, using an extra dusting of flour as needed.  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutters to desired shapes.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet to bake.  Bake at 325 degrees for 8 -11 minutes, remove from oven when tops of cookies form tiny cracks.  Be careful not to over bake.  You don’t want them to get brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove cookies to bakers rack and cool completely.  Place cookies on parchment lined baking sheets, decorate with Butter Cream Frosting and allow cookies let stand overnight, if possible.  Don’t cover the cookies for the first night or cookies will be too soft.  Place on serving platters or baskets the next day.  Store remaining cookies in airtight container.

                                                Butter Cream Frosting
6 cups powdered sugar
¾ cup butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
  drop red food coloring

In electric mixer, cream together butter, powdered sugar and milk.  Add vanilla and almond extract and cream mixture again.  Add desired food coloring or divide frosting in half and color each half separately.  Place frosting in decorators bag fitted with a star tip and fill in top of sugar cookies with tightly packed stars.  If possible, allow to set over night.  These frosted cookies taste even better the next day.  Don’t cover frosted cookies, as this will makes them too soft.  Allow to set uncovered in cool location overnight.  The next day they will be perfect to arrange on trays or baskets and they will taste amazing!


What is Life?
Life is a challenge. Meet it.
Life is a gift. Accept it.
Life is an adventure. Dare it.
Life is a sorrow. Overcome it.
Life is a tragedy. Face it.
Life is a duty. Perform it.
Life is a game. Play it.
Life is a mystery. Unfold it.
Life is a song. Sing it.
Life is a beauty. Praise it.
Life is a goal. Achieve it.
Life is an opportunity. Take it.
Life is a puzzle. Solve it.
Life is a struggle. Fight it.
Life is journey. Complete it.
Life is a promise. Fulfill it.

(author unknown)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Game Day Roasted Vegetable Pretzel Crust Pizza

Roasted Vegetable Pretzel Crust Pizza
This pizza was inspired by the awesome pizza at Pizza and Pretzel Connection in Historic Frederick Maryland.  We were instantly hooked...I only make pizza now on a pretzel crust!  It's our favorite!

Pretzel Dough:
1 tablespoons dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
¼ cup brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour

 In bowl of electric mixer whisk yeast with warm water by hand until dissolved.  Whisk in brown sugar and salt.  Attach dough hook and mix in flour one cup at a time until a dough forms.  Mix for 5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.  While dough is rising, roast your vegetables and set aside. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough into three equal portions.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with baking spray.  Roll out dough out to 1/4-1/2 inch thick on floured counter top.  Place on prepared baking sheet. 

½ cup hot water
1 tablespoon baking powder

In small bowl mix ½ cup hot water with 1 tablespoon baking soda.  With pastry brush, brush top of rolled out dough with baking soda mixture and sprinkle with course sea salt.  Bake at 450 degrees for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with grated Parmesan or fresh mozzarella slices and top with roasted vegetables.  Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Return to oven and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Roasted Vegetables:
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
1-2 egg plants, cut into ½ inch rounds
1 red onion, cut into ½ inch rounds
½ -1 lb. cherry or Roma tomatoes, cut in half
1 red pepper, cut into ½ inch slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On baking sheet toss vegetables in olive oil and season with coarse salt, fresh ground pepper, and fresh or dried herbs. Position tomatoes cut side up and spread vegetables out on baking sheet.  Roast for 20-30 minutes.  Place vegetables on top of cheese before baking pizza.

Game Day Pretzel Dogs

Pretzel Dogs

There is a fantastic little pizza and pretzel place in historic downtown Frederick, Maryland called the Pizza and Pretzel Connection.  We love their pizza and pretzels…so much that I came home and started making Pretzel Dogs with pretzel dough.  So darn good! These are always a HUGE hit with the kids and their friends!  

Pretzel Dough

1 tablespoons dry yeast

1 ½ cups warm water

¼ cup brown sugar

1 1/8 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour

In bowl of electric mixer whisk yeast with warm water by hand until dissolved.  Whisk in brown sugar and salt.  Attach dough hook and mix in flour one cup at a time until a dough forms.  Mix for 5 minutes.  Grease some counter top with shortening and pour dough out onto greased counter.  Roll both sides of dough over shortening and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.  Let rise for 1 hour.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on baking sheet and spray with baking spray.  Cut off a rectangular piece of dough and roll out into a 1 inch thick rope.  Wrap around hot dogs 4 times.  Dip dough wrapped hot dogs immediately in soda water.  Dab bottom of pretzel dogs on paper towel.  Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Let rise a few minutes, if desired.  Bake at 450 degrees for 5-8 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.  Serve immediately with ketchup and mustard for dipping.

Soda Water

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon baking soda

Mix hot water and baking soda together in a medium bowl.  Stir well.

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