Cream Cheese Apple Danishes

One of my favorite ingredients to have on hand is a box of puff pastry.  Whether it’s made into a savory recipe, or a sweet, this versatile freezer staple is good to have handy.  When you are working with puff pastry it is important that it stays cold.  Thaw it in the refrigerator then work quickly when preparing it to bake.  Puff pastry is a dough made from lots of butter, so the warmer it gets the more difficult it is to work with.

This breakfast Danish recipe can be made with a variety of seasonal fruits.  A few ideas would be peach, strawberry, blueberry and of course, apple.  When working with delicate fresh fruits like peaches and berries there is no need to cook the fruit ahead of time.

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The puff pastry brand that I use is Pepperidge Farm.  It comes in two sheets that are easily folded out and cut.  Each sheet of the pastry is cut into 4 sections to make the Danishes.

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Each section of pastry is topped with a dollop of cream cheese filling.  I have sautéed the apples in a little bit of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Arrange the apples as shown on top of the cream cheese filling.  Fold in two of the corners, then brush with egg wash.

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Cream Cheese Apple Danishes

Ingredients

  • 1 box Puff Pastry (2 Sheets)
  • For the filling
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Egg Yolks (reserve the egg whites to brush the pastries later)
  • For the Fruit
  • 2 Apples
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Instructions

    For the Filling
  1. In a small mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer whip cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and egg yolks until smooth. Reserve egg whites to brush over the Danishes before baking.
  2. For the Apples
  3. Peel and thinly slice each apple. Melt butter over low heat in a small sauté pan. Add apples and cook until nearly tender, but not mushy. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.
  4. To assemble
  5. Lay cold puff pastry out flat on your work surface- if necessary to prevent sticking you can sprinkle a little bit of flour on your work surface. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares. Spoon about 2 ounces of cream cheese filling onto the center of each square. Then, lay about 6 cooked apple slices over the filling, fanning the slices out. Fold two corners and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. If you do not have parchment you can use an ungreased baking sheet. Mix your egg whites that you reserved from earlier with 1 Tablespoon of water. Brush egg wash mixture over the exposed dough of each Danish. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
http://www.staceycooks.com/cream-cheese-apple-danishes/

 

Green Bean Casserole

Growing up we ate more than our fair share of the traditional Green Bean Casserole. It was the first recipe that I memorized- Canned French Cut Green Beans, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, a splash of milk and French’s Fried Onions. It was one of our favorite side dishes, and I wanted to create a homemade version.

Green Bean Casserole
Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 cups Mushrooms, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Flour
1 cup Beef Stock
1 cup Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 cups Fine Green Beans, Fresh or frozen

For topping:
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Place green beans and 2 cups water in a medium stock pot over high heat, covered. Allow to steam for 12-15 minutes. Pour beans into a strainer and rinse with cold water.

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In a medium saucepan over low heat melt 1 Tablespoon of butter. Stir in chopped mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter. Stir in flour and cook for one minute. Add beef stock and stir until flour/butter mixture is well combined. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. With heat on low add milk, then season to taste.

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In a greased 9×9 inch pan pour a thin layer of mushroom sauce, then a layer of beans, and repeat the layering until all ingredients are used.

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For topping, combine all ingredients and sprinkle over prepared casserole.
Bake at 350 25-30 minutes, or until top is browned and sauce is bubbly.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

What do you do when you are out of tortillas and want to make Mexican for dinner? More specifically… what do you do when you are out of tortillas and there is 4 inches of ice on your driveway, and it is 0 degrees outside? You make your own tortillas.
Tortillas are simple to make and the flavor of homemade is so much better than that of store bought. By that I mean, the kind of tortillas you can buy at your local Walmart. I have a good friend, who is a Chef and lives in Texas. When she wants tortillas she can just run to the store and buy freshly made, warm tortillas. We, here in the Tundra of Ohio (as she calls it) are not so lucky.

Flour Tortillas
Makes 12, 6-8 tortillas

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2 ½ cups Flour
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Baking Powder
1/3 cup Shortening
2/3 cup Warm Water

Vegetable Oil for cooking

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder and shortening. Mix with hands until shortening is well blended with the flour. Add water, 1/3 cup at a time. Fold with wooden spoon to incorporate water. Add only enough water necessary to soak up all of the flour, but not make dough sticky.

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Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a log and cut in ½, then cut pieces in half again, and then each piece into 3 slices. This should give you 12 even dough discs. Roll each disc into a 6-8 inch round tortilla, with a rolling pin. Tortillas should about 1 millimeter thick.

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I use a folded paper towel secured with a rubber band as a make-shift oil brush. I grab it with tongs and brush the pan between each tortilla.

Once all of the tortillas have been rolled out, heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Pan is ready to be cooked in when you can feel the warmth of the heat while holding your hand one inch from the bottom of the pan. Brush lightly with vegetable oil and cook tortilla on one side until large bubbles form, then flip and cook until browned in a few spots.

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Continue this process until the remaining tortillas are cooked, brushing pan with oil between each tortilla.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.

Blueberry Muffin Cake

One of my favorite breakfast sweets is a blueberry muffin. This cake is the perfect way to serve blueberry muffins to a crowd, without having the hassle of making muffins. It is great baked the day ahead, so its the perfect recipe for a stress free brunch.

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Makes 1 Bundt Cake

1 cup Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
1 ¼ Buttermilk
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 ¾ cups Flour
3 cups Blueberries

In a medium sized mixing bowl mix butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer. Once combined add eggs and blend until fluffy. Then mix on low speed to incorporate vanilla, buttermilk, baking powder, soda,salt, lemon juice and zest. Keeping mixer on low speed add flour. Mix only until flour is incorporated, do not overmix. Fold blueberries into batter with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into greased bundt cake pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 60-80 minutes- until toothpick come out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto a cake stand for service. Do not turn out too early, or the cake will break stick in the bottom of the pan.

Chicken and Dumplins

No… That isn’t a typo. It is against my families’ nature to put the “g” in dumpling. There is something wonderfully comforting about this soup, and it is not just because of the improper grammar. Whether you are tired of Winter’s cold… or you have a winter cold, this soup is the perfect remedy. It takes some time, but it is well worth it when you taste the end result. My mom always boils a couple of extra chickens when she makes this soup. That way you have the broth and picked chicken frozen and ready when you need it.

Chicken and Dumplins
Makes 6-8 large servings

2 whole Chickens
Water
2 cups Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups Carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup Peas
1 cup Corn
1 cup Cut Green Beans
Salt and Pepper to taste

For Dumplings:
2 cups Self Rising Flour
½ cup Shortening
1 Tbsp Sugar
¾ – 1 cup Buttermilk

Place chickens in a large stock pot and cover with water, about an inch higher than the chicken. Simmer for 2-3 hours uncovered. Remove chicken from the broth and set aside to cool. Strain broth using a wire strainer and another large pot to catch the strained broth. Pick chicken from the bones and set aside to be added to the soup later.

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Add the potatoes and carrots to the strained broth in a large stock pot. Boil until veggies are nearly tender, then add remaining vegetables (I use frozen peas, beans and corn).
While potatoes are cooking mix your dumpling dough. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine self rising flour, sugar and shortening. Mix with your hands until shortening is well incorporated. Add buttermilk a ½ cup at a time, and blend with a wooden spoon. Add enough buttermilk to moisten all of the flour. Do not over mix the dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 3-4 times, then press into a circle about the size of your soup pot. Cut dough into even squares with a large knife.

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Once you have added all of the vegetables to the broth, season the soup to your tastes. Add picked chicken. Bring soup back to a boil. Carefully place each dough square onto the top of the soup, in the same pattern that you cut them in. Be careful not to drop them in and splash yourself.

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Place lid on stock pot and boil soup on medium heat for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid. It is important to keep the steam in the pot to thoroughly cook your dumplings. After ten minutes remove the lid and simmer for 5 more minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Notes:
You can add shredded cheese, garlic, or herbs to your biscuits if you prefer.
This soup base is very versatile and you can add whatever vegetables your family likes. Some others can include: onions, celery, peppers, squash and lima beans.
If you don’t want to make dumplings simply add egg noodles at the same time you add your final vegetables, Boil for 10 minutes to cook noodles.

Pumpkin Swirl Cake

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Fall is fast approaching and when the air becomes chilly I always get a taste for pumpkin. This cake is a new favorite of mine because rich pumpkin pie with a light vanilla cake. It is simple to make and can even be done using a box cake.

For Cake:

1 ½ cups Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Salt
1 stick Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
½ tsp Vanilla
¾ cup Milk

Combine Flour, Powder and Salt in a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric hand mixer add one tablespoon of butter at a time, and mix until the mixture is coarse like sand. Then add sugar. Mix egg in one at a time, followed by the vanilla and milk. Do not overmix. At this stage, if you choose to use a box cake mix, follow box instructions for mixing. Pour cake into a greased 9×13 inch baking pan.

For Pumpkin Filling
1 Small Can Pumpkin Puree
½ cup Evaporated Milk
1 egg
Pumpkin Pie Spice if desired

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Pour over cake mixture. Bake Cake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Pumpkin mixture will sink and swirl itself in the cake. Bake until cake no longer jiggles in the middle. Allow cake to cool on the counter before icing.

For Icing

8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
½ cup Powdered Sugar
½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
½ tsp Vanilla

With electric hand mixture whip cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, cream and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks form. Ice cake and refrigerate for service.

Lemon Chess Pie

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Lemon Chess Pie

This pie is a fond childhood food memory of mine. My Great Grandma from North Carolina used to make it. It is traditional southern chess pie, which means it is thickened with cornmeal.

Makes 1, 9 inch pie

2 cups Sugar
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Tbsp Corn Meal
4 Eggs
¼ cup Butter, melted
¼ cup Milk
4 tsp Lemon Zest (about 2 lemons)
¼ cup Lemon Juice
1 unbaked 9 inch Pie Shell

Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir to incorporate. Prepare a 9 inch pie pan with either store bought or homemade crust, rolled out and edged crimped in pan. Pour Chess mixture into prepared pie pan. Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes. You may want to cover just the edges of the crust with foil halfway through baking to prevent over browning. Do so by cutting a circle out of the center of a square piece of foil, then lightly placing it onto the edge of the crust. The pie is finished baking when the center is lightly browned. It will set more as it cools. Serve at room temperature.

For a great step by step recipe for pie crust check out this link
www.staceycooks.com/?p=67

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Potato Bacon Soup

In honor of this rainy and dreary day I thought I would make a hearty potato soup. Though I normally consider soup a winter food, I look forward to rainy summer days to enjoy a bowl… or two!

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Potato Bacon Soup

½ cup Bacon, diced
1 Tbsp Butter
¾ cup Flour
4 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
½ cup Milk
2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook bacon in medium saucepan over low heat until crisp. Remove bacon- leaving grease in pan. Add butter to grease and melt. Over low heat, stir in flour and cook for one minute. Then add chicken broth- and scrap the pan drippings from the bottom of the pan to incorporate into the soup. Add diced potatoes and simmer until tender. Stir in cheese, milk and cream. Season to taste.

Hashbrown Shepherd’s Pie

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This take on shepherd’s pie is quick to throw together, and can be prepped ahead and refrigerated or frozen before baking. I used frozen hash brown potatoes for a quick option- you could also boil then shred your own potatoes.

½ lb Ground Beef
1 cup Zucchini, diced
½ tsp Garlic
¼ cup Flour
1 ½ cups Beef Broth
½ cup Swiss Cheese, shredded
½ cup Milk
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Pinch of Cayenne
2 cups Frozen Shredded Potatoes

In a medium saucepan cook beef over low heat, adding zucchini and garlic half way through. Cook until zucchini is nearly tender, then stir in flour. Cook for one more minute and add broth- scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get any browning incorporated into the sauce. Add cheese and simmer until thickened. Stir in milk and season to taste. Place in greased oven safe bake ware- I used two oven proof bowls. Top with potatoes. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (time my need to be longer if they have been refrigerated or frozen- look for bubbling sauce to determine doneness). Optional- turn your oven on broil to crisp the top of the potatoes.

Sweet Corn Bread

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This recipe is for a small batch of sweet corn bread. I have been on a quest to find a recipe for cornbread that is not dry and flavorless- this is finally it! The cake mix adds the moisture and sweetness needed to really make this cornbread special. This recipe make 4 individual muffin sized servings.

1 cup Yellow Cake Mix
1 cup Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 egg
½ cup Milk

Mix all ingredients well with whisk. Pour into greased ramekins or muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes. Muffins are done when the center has risen and batter no longer jiggles. Serve warm with butter.