Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce

I used to have a go-to Alfredo sauce a while ago buried in my binders of recipes. Unfortunately, I lost the recipe. But after doing a quick search, I found another great recipe for Olive Garden's Alfredo Sauce. I used to always buy a pint of Alfredo Sauce from Olive Garden and so I was really excited to have found this recipe. This is a nice sauce to keep in the fridge and use for a quick dinner. You can add shrimp and chicken to it when you're ready to use it and you've got a nice, delicious meal for the family.

1 pint heavy cream
2 sticks butter
2 Tbsp. cream cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

1) In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, butter and cream cheese. Simmer on medium heat until everything is melted, stirring occasionally. Add Parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.

2) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

I think my pursuit for the perfect Vanilla cupcake recipe has ended here.

I love Vanilla cupcakes. I think I love it more so than a chocolate cupcake. Take me to a cupcake store and I'll most likely choose cupcakes that are vanilla based rather than chocolate based. Don't get me wrong. I still love my fair share of chocolate. But there's something about vanilla cupcake that I can't resist.

I've been looking for the perfect Vanilla cupcake recipe ever since I made them last year for Halloween. I wasn't too happy with that recipe and I vowed to find the recipe that is as close to the ones I get at my favorite cupcake stores. And then I found this recipe from Martha Stewart for the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes. I've had the actual cupcakes from the Magnolia bakery before when my sister-in-law brought some during one of our visits to my mother-in-law. They were so delicious. So you can only imagine the excitement I had when I found this recipe.

These were quite easy to make. However, you need to make sure to not over-fill the cupcake liner with the batter because it will puff up and burn on the sides like they did on mine. But the cupcake tastes just as good as the bakery itself. Light and fluffy cake, sweet and decadent frosting. The perfect combination.

1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine flours together and set aside. In a bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3) Add dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with each addition. Beat until ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat.

4) Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into prepared liners about half to 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick test comes out clean. Rotate pan half way through the baking. Cool for 15 minutes and transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1) In a bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine butter, 4 cups of the confectioner's sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.

2) Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until desired consistency. Frost cupcakes and serve at room temperature.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hot Browns

This is another one of hubby's favorites that came about as an experiment. I was experimenting, at one point, with plain turkey sandwiches. Instead of regular turkey sandwich with the standard tomato, cheese, lettuce, etc., I started playing around with it by adding a fried egg and toasting the bread. Sounds yummy, huh? Then one day, I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network and they featured Hot Browns. I had no idea what Hot Browns were. Its an open-faced sandwich of turkey, tomato, and bacon, topped with a white sauce called a Mornay sauce. Its apparently a Southern favorite, and was originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

I saw this sandwich being made on the throwdown and so I decided to give it a shot and put a twist to my experimented turkey sandwich using my white sauce from my Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe. The end product was a gooey, yummy spin on an old classic that hubby absolutely loves.

slices of sandwich bread (white or wheat), toasted
turkey slices
tomato slices
White Sauce
4 cooked bacon slices

1) Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to broil. For each hot brown, place 2 slices of toast on a baking sheet. Place a liberal amount of turkey slices on top of the toast. Top with with desired amount of tomato slices. Ladle desired amount of white sauce on top of sandwich. Place entire dish under the broiler until sauce is bubbly. Remove from broiler and top with a slice of bacon. Serve hot.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I've been making Chicken Cordon Bleu for a long time. Its one of hubby's favorite dishes that I make. I first had a taste of this delicious chicken dish when one of my aunts catered a party for my mom. And ever since then, its all we ask her to make for us. Her Chicken Cordon Bleu is served with a white sauce that just makes it over-the-top yummy. Unfortunately, my aunt retired from catering and only does on rare occasions. So where was I going to get my Chicken Cordon Bleu fix? I've seen frozen versions at my favorite store, Costco. I gave it a try, but it just tastes......frozen. And it didn't have the white sauce that I loved. So I decided to try to make my own version and came up with this recipe.

I used to make the sauce out of a powdered cheese sauce that I bought at the supermarket. But I decided to experiment using the beschamel base from my Macaroni & Cheese recipe and came up with my own cheese sauce that's just as yummy as my aunt's.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
ham slices
4 slices Swiss cheese
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.

2) Place chicken breast, one at a time between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Squirt chicken lightly with water and squirt the top of the plastic wrap as well. Pound chicken to no less than 1/8 inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

3) Lay flattened chicken on a new piece of plastic wrap. Place ham slices on the center of the chicken breast. Place a slice of Swiss cheese on top of the ham. Using the plastic wrap to assist, fold in the ends of the breast and tightly roll the breast into a log, enclosing the ham and cheese.

4) In a small bowl, whisk together milk and egg. In another small bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Lightly coat prepared chicken with breadcrumb mixture, then dip in the egg mixture. Dip chicken back in the breadcrumb mixture again, patting it down firmly so that the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let chicken sit for about 5 minutes before serving with the white sauce.

White Sauce
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Continue to whisk for about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and continue whisking until there are no longer any lumps. Allow mixture to boil, whisking occasionally. Sauce will begin to thicken.

2) Add salt, nutmeg, black pepper and Parmesan. Stir until combine. Remove from heat and serve.