Remaking a recipe

I have this old recipe that I remember making in Home Ec in middle school.  I thought it was all professional and grownup – I don’t think my partner liked it though – lol.  It is a simple chicken filling that is wrapped in crescent roll dough.  I had some puff pastry left over and thought I would remake the recipe to be a little more adult and better tasting.

Ingredients
CC_Ingredients

Filling mixed.  I didn’t have a clean tablespoon measure, so I just splashed some milk in and as you can see, it was a little too much
CC_Filling

Making the packets – I tried so hard to get them all to look as good as the first one and all closed up.  It didn’t happen, so I just posted this picture 🙂
CC_MakingThePackets

The original recipe used crushed croutons on the buttered top, but I never liked it.  Since the cooked chicken I used had a shallot pepper seasoning on them, I figured I would throw some dried shallots on top.  I was really excited at this point.
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Then this happened.  I put it under the broiler to get some color on it and BAM!  Burnt
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I ate the sad one in the far left corner.  I still am going to eat the rest because – well – I need the food – lol.

Some thoughts – obviously, less time under the broiler.  I think the butter on top of the puff pastry was a little much.  You can also see that every single one opened up to some degree.  I would love to figure out a way to keep them closed.  If not, then put the pastry in a ramekin and ladle in the filling.  The filling itself turned out great.  I added some garlic powder to the filling and the chicken with the shallot pepper just added a level of tastiness to the filling that I don’t remember it having before.  I would leave off the butter on the top of the pastry, definitely.

I will be trying to tweak this recipe again to see if I can just really bring it to the next level.  Here is the basic recipe I used.  I don’t have any measurements in the seasonings because I didn’t measure anything and was just tasting as I mixed the filling.  The recipe below includes the butter for the top of the puff pastry, but I marked it as optional.

Puff Pastry Chicken Squares

3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp melted butter
2 cup cooked, cubed seasoned chicken
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Dried Parsley to taste
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp chopped onion
1 sheet puff pastry
1 tbsp melted butter (optional)
Dried Shallots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend cheese and butter until smooth.  Add next six ingredients and mix.  Roll out the dough and cut into 4 squares.  Spoon ½ cup of the chicken mixture into center of the square.  Pull 4 corners to top center of filling.  Twist slightly and seal the edges.  Brush tops with butter (optional) and top with Dried Shallots.  Bake on cookie sheet with parchment paper until browned.

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Birthday Cakes

Today is my birthday.  To celebrate, I made myself some cakes 🙂  I have a cookbook that is filled with dry mix recipes.  This is the first one I tried.  I only made half of the recipe since it makes 8 cups of mix.  4 cups is all that is needed for the cake recipe, so that’s all I did.

Ingredients for the dry mix.
VC_DryMix

Wet ingredients, but only the egg whites are used.  I didn’t read the recipe through and I was actually supposed to whip the egg whites.  I just threw them into the batter with the milk and vanilla.  OOPS!
VC_WetIngredients

Ingredients all mixed up.  You can see it is a fairly thick batter.  I was concerned that the cakes would be like rocks.  I filled the cupcake pan and realized there was a lot left over.  I made a round cake, too.  I didn’t get any pictures of the pre-baked cakes because it didn’t  really look that appetizing……and I forgot about then cake (facepalm)
VC_All_Mixed

Here they are all baked up
VC_BakedVC_Cake

The cupcakes aren’t heavy at all.  I haven’t tried the cake yet, but I really liked the cupcakes.  It was a nice light flavor.  The top was pleasantly crunchy

I made icing from the cookbook, too, but I didn’t like it at all.  It was just like the stuff that I use to ice my sugar cookies.  I didn’t think it would work well on the cupcakes.  I made another recipe from Joy of Cooking instead, but that didn’t really work out instead.  Since I have a pretty good basic cake recipe, I now have a vehicle to test other icing recipes.  I think the mistake I made with the Joy of Cooking cookbook was I didn’t use beaters.  It was melted chocolate, cream and powdered sugar.  I do have a picture of them all frosted, but it looked so bad I decided not to post it.  Nothing like flat icing to destroy a cake picture.  I literally used my fingers and smooshed the icing on.  It didn’t spread very well….to say the least.

I have a few more recipes from this cookbook that I want to try – pancake, biscuits, and bread.  The thing I was really disappointed with this book was the recipe I came across that told the person reading it to put RAW garlic into olive oil.  Seriously?  What editor let that pass through??  Has no one ever heard of botulism?  You should NEVER put raw garlic into olive oil and let it sit there.  I will try some others, but I am wary about any of the recipes that you mix ahead of time and let set – like the cake stuff up there – especially with the oil and garlic recommendation.

Not as crunchy as intended

I like granola.  Well, I like certain granola.  I am a bit picky, but they are so expensive – especially with my tastes (Can we say Kashi chocolate granola?).  I ran across this recipe,but I have no idea where.  I like granola.  I like oatmeal cookies.  I figured it was a good fit.

Ingredients:  See that honey?  Yea, not enough honey by thaaaat much.  I wasn’t quire sure what else to add to it.  I really didn’t want to add syrup or the barely malt syrup in my fridge.
G_Ingredients

I forgot to show this one.  I may have used more than the recipe calls for, but, hey, who doesn’t like cinnamon.  I was just too lazy to try and find my tsp, so I just guesstimated with a 1/2 tbsp.
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All the dry mixed up.  When you make this recipe, don’t do this.  I just wrote down the ingredients when I went to the kitchen instead of all of the directions.  Mistake.  I put the raisins and chocolate before the first bake instead of after.
G_Mixed

Close-up cause it looks cool
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I tried to make the just not quite enough honey and mixed the crap out of it when I poured it on.  I was determined to get every piece covered.  By the way – use a bowl bigger than a cereal bowl to mix up the peanut butter and honey……trust me.

All laid out to be baked
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Baked.
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See, this is when you were supposed to put in the chocolate and raisins then bake again.  I just took it out and put it to cool while I worked on some other things.  I didn’t realize that I got it wrong until I sat down to write this post.  I didn’t want to put it back in for fear that it would burn the chocolate.  I took a taste while I was breaking it up and it was pretty good.

See this?  This is what I originally wrote about my first impression of the granola
“The honey I used is very strong and makes me kind of wonder if I could use something else in it’s place.  Honey and I have an odd relationship.  It’s not that I hate it, it’s just that I prefer it sometimes and others, I don’t.  I definitely want to try this again with corn syrup or agave nectar or something. “

Fast forward to when I was putting it away for the final picture.  I couldn’t stop eating it.  I started wondering what cocoa roasted almonds would taste like in it or cinnamon toasted almonds.  I think I will keep it the way it is – definitely use honey.  It wasn’t as crunchy as standard granola, but I am guessing that is because of the missed second baking.  I cannot WAIT to make this again.  Oh, yea, and actually make it the correct way next time 😀

Waffles, round two

Another recipe that didn’t turn out so well.  If you only had these two recipes to go off of with my cooking skill, I wouldn’t even want to eat at my house!!  I found a simple recipe in Joy of Cooking for waffles and thought “OOOOOOO!”  I had all the ingredients, so, I had to make it, right?

Ingredients – the recipe called for the flour to be sifted BEFORE measuring.  What I did was put the measuring cup I needed on a piece of parchment paper and start sifting over it.  Then, I moved the cup, folded the parchment paper in half and poured the other sifted flour into the cup.  It’s best to do this either over another piece of parchment paper or a cutting board.  If it overflows, then you can still use the extra flour to measure the rest.
W_Ingredients

I mixed it all up and put it in a pitcher for easier pouring.  I actually used an old brita pitcher and I am quite glad I did.  It worked perfectly.
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I had such a hard time with these things sticking – no matter what I did.  The first one I made, I threw some chocolate chips.  Yea – that stuck like a punk.  I ate it while I was making the others.  I apparently have issues with filling up waffle irons, but not one cooked correctly (and there was another one that stuck badly).  The last one actually overflowed and it still wasn’t a full waffle.
W_Bounty

Sad, huh?  I think I might be done with waffles, too.  None of them were crispy – see how they hang off the side of the cooling rack up there?  None of them cook evenly no matter how long I leave them in the iron.  I am still going to eat them.  I should be able to crisp them up by reheating in the toaster oven instead of the microwave.  One or two are going to be turned into sandwiches.  I just have to accept the fact that I have a waffle disability…….maybe I should just buy a griddle and switch to pancakes.

Pizza and the continuing dough issues

I don’t know why I continue to try and make things like pizza dough when I always have so much trouble with it, but I did and it wasn’t a happy experience again.  I got the recipe from a link on a blog I follow (I am sure you can tell that I follow many 🙂 )

Ingredients
PD_Ingredients

All kneaded.  I had issues just with kneading the dough – no matter how much flour I added, it stuck all over the place.  I put it in the fridge since I wasn’t going to be making it the same day.
PD_Kneaded

I finally got around to it about three days later.  I took some parchment paper and tried to stretch it out.  I didn’t get very far.  It all stuck to me, it kept bouncing back no matter how long I waited.  I finally gave up.  They don’t look very big to me and I was disappointed in the sizes.
PD_BadDough

I made two types: Pepperoni
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And Taco
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I prefer the meat under the cheese when I am making pizza.  for some reason, it seems to work better for me.

I don’t have a pizza stone, so I just baked these on a cookie sheet.  I didn’t take the parchment paper off halfway and I don’t think I would have been able to.  When I took them out and tried to remove the paper, it stuck.  Seriously?  I was so annoyed.  I did bake them a minute or two too long – it really wasn’t as bad as it looks – I promise 🙂
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Inner is pepperoni and outer is taco – I swear, it looks worse than it tasted.  It really wasn’t burnt at all
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Well, cooking on a baking sheet made the bottom kind of not a not cooked feel – it’s hard to describe.  Since the dough kept shrinking, there were folds all over the place on the bottom.  It was surprisingly salty, too.  I don’t know what happened with that.  The texture was ok, but all the other problems I had doesn’t really inspire me to make this again.  It wasn’t blow me away or close enough to want to go through all the frustration again.

I think I may have to abandon the attempts to make homemade pizza.  It only remotely worked once and that time, the dough didn’t have enough salt (facepalm).  Also, sorry about the dark pictures – I finally took the plastic off my view screen on my camera and it makes everything look so much brighter until I get it into the photo viewer.  I should have left the plastic on, apparently – lol

 

On the subject of substitutions

And I don’t mean the substitution of things like baking soda and baking powder, I mean the ones that people use to save calories and insists “It taskes just like the real thing!”.  Um, no, it doesn’t.  I am one of the many people struggling with their weight and I must admit – I have tried a couple of them with very little success.  I don’t know if people are actually enjoying this or they are eating it “because it’s good for you”.  While I do try and incorporate healthier foods in my diet, I don’t eat things I don’t like just because it is good for me.  You won’t get any beans, brussell sprouts, peas in this stomach!

Oil – Let’s be real here, it is better to use a vegetable oil than spray chemicals from a can.  I actually see recipes where you coat teh food with the spray!  Fat is healthy and good for you in reasonable limits.  Healthy oils help your skin, hair, nails and with digestion.  I have the baking spray, but I don’t use it like a condiment.  I use just enough to coat the pan.  I tried the spray stuff and I can’t stand to use a lot.  I can taste it in my food very distinctly.  Give me some good old olive oil

Potatoes – I love them.  I eat them frequently, but they get such a bad rap.  Too many CARBS.  All about the CARBS.  Let’s forget that they are a very filling, low calorie meal (you know, if baked and not smothered with cheese and bacon bits).  Now, when I want mashed potatoes, I measure everything and use skim milk instead of full fat or 2%.  I still put in butter, but I use the real stuff in the stick.  Maybe not quite as much as I would like, but enough to get the taste of the butter.  The broth mashed potatoes are nowhere near a good replacement – even though the tipster swore “it was just as creamy as the fattening one”.  I am glad I only did a small amount of that – poor potatoes.  Mashed cauliflower is also bad.  I don’t know why I tried it here, but I will never do it again.

Pasta – Spaghetti squash is only a good substitute if you like squash.  I do not.  But since it “Tastes just like spaghetti”, I tried it.  OMG – it smelled so bad to me that I immediately tossed it and thew some pasta in water.  I love pasta.  Growing up in an italian family, it was an easy, cheap, filling go to meal when no one felt like cooking.  Instead of loading my plate, though, I portion it all out.  When possible, I make individual servings in ramekins.  This takes all the guess work out of it.  I try and buy the Plus brand from Barilla or smart taste by Ronzoni – the one with the veggies in it.  I do have some whole grain, but I don’t go to it a lot.  It has such a strong taste that I don’t like it in replacement of normal white pasta.  I think it is good prepared simply so the whole grain taste can come out.  If I did like spaghetti squash, I would do the same thing.  It isn’t pasta, doesn’t taste like it, doesn’t have the same texture, don’t treat it like pasta.

Eggs – omg, so much hatred for the poor little egg.  I admit, I did buy the egg substitute for a while, but it was so expensive when comparing to regular eggs.  I have replaced 1 of the 2 eggs I eat in the morning with an egg white.  I started doing it because of the fat and, of course, calorie counting.  Now – it’s the perfect amount of egg for me.  Two whole eggs leaves me feeling stuffed.  Weird, right?

Desserts – What some people do to desserts is just sad to me.  Beans in brownies, avacados in pudding, applesauce for oil.  Has it gotten so we can’t even eat dessert without trying to “fix” it?  I admit, I do use lower fat in some of my baking adventures, but I can always tell the difference.  I will gladly have my full-fat, glorious brownie (albeit a smaller peice) and enjoy it!  Ok, I just ran into a recipe that uses beets in chocolate cupcakes.  WHY??!?

Substitutions I will make are normally just getting a lower fat version of the food I want.  Like skim milk, 2% cheese, lower fat yogurt, low fat sausage, turkey pepperoni, etc.

Retro dip

The other day, I was writing out all the recipes in my handwritten cookbook and I came across Spinach Dip.  Oh yea, I am bringing it back!!  I could not get it out of my head – the seasonings, the creaminess – insert Homer drool.  I just HAD to make it.  Sad part?  I couldn’t eat it last night because I made a couple snafus with grocery store purchases and ended up buying higher calorie items.  I will defintely be having some during the day today.  I bought some thin triscuits to go with them.  I have plain and parmesan garlic.  I think they will both be good, but since I have been craving the seasoning, I will and just use plain this time.  There are 4 cups to eat, so I think I will get a chance to try with the other ones.

Ingredients – I did not use all the sour cream.  It just so happened that I had tacos last night and needed some extra.  This was the perfect size.  I also used more spinach than was called for in the recipe.  My coworker made this a while ago and the proportion of spinach to creamy dipness was way out of wack.  I bought a 2 pound bag of spinach instead of the brick.  With what was lost when squeezing dry, it was the perfect amount.  I hate water chestnuts, so they were out.  As for the green onion?  I didn’t think they were necessary.
SD_Ingredients

Ready to mix
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All mixed up
SD_Mixed

Yep – that’s it.  I cannot wait to have it.  I will stress that the refrigeration time in the recipe is key – it gives the time enough for all the flavors to blend.  It was a huge difference from when I first mixed it to later last night when I tasted.  I am bringing it into work to share.  I still hope to have enough to last the rest of the week and possibly over the weekend.  I may separate some and keep it home to ensure this 🙂  Hey – at least I am sharing, I should be able to keep some of my own!!