Orange You Thankful Skillet Coffee Cake

Hello there. Remember me? Yes, I’ve been away for a while, but I’m back. Just got busy again with work and life in general. I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday and survived the madness that is the Black Friday weekend. My Turkey Day was quiet – just the hubby, pooches and me – so I prepared a small feast and gave thanks for another wonderful year with my little family. I am also especially thankful these days that I can share my passion for cooking with my fellow bloggers, followers, family and friends. These past few months have been educational and fun, and I have all of you to thank for inspiring me to find creative ways to cook with cast iron.

So enjoy this scrumptious orange-glazed skillet coffee cake, which is great with a dollop of cranberry sauce and a hot beverage.

Ingredients
1 package Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm Water (105 – 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup warm Milk (105 – 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 Tbsp. Grated Orange Zest
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
3 1/2 – 4 cups All-Purpose Flour

Glaze Ingredients
1 large Egg, lightly beaten

Icing Ingredients
1 cup Confectioners’ Sugar
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsps. Orange Juice

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand for about 10 minutes until foamy.

To the yeast mixture, add the warm milk, orange juice, sugar…

ricotta cheese, orange zest, salt and egg.

Mix thoroughly.

Using a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat two cups of flour on low speed into the yeast mixture until a wet dough forms. Beat in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until a stiff dough forms.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead 5 to 10 minutes…

until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, get out all of your aggressions and punch it down. Knead it again on a lightly floured surface for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide the dough into three equal parts.

Roll each section into 20-inch ropes.

Braid the ropes together.

Coil the braided dough into a well-oiled cast iron skillet.

Cover the skillet with a damp cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, brush it with the egg wash glaze.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown. Turn the cake out until a wire rack to cool slightly.

Prepare the icing by combining the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice.

Drizzle the icing over the cake, preferably on a cake stand or plate.

Cut yourself a slice, add some cranberry sauce, and relish that orangey goodness. Don’t be surprised if your cake disappears in a day.

Rainy Day Quesadilla

It has been raining cats and dogs all day here in Northern Nevada, which is an unusual thing for the high desert. Gray, soggy days like today make me crave something warm and cheerful. This colorful and flavorful chicken quesadilla is just the ticket…and it is low in calories (only 240) and diabetic-friendly. Loved by adults and kids alike, this quesadilla is a longstanding favorite in my household and comes filled with chicken, spinach, cheddar cheese and a delectable pico de gallo.

Ingredients
1 1/2 to 2 cups of fresh Pico de Gallo
2-3 cups of shredded cooked Chicken
1 cup fresh Spinach
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
4 to 8 Flour Tortillas
Cooking Spray

First, make the pico de gallo. Use the recipe found here. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use.

You can use a variety of cooked chicken, if you like. You can use rotisserie chicken purchased at the grocery story, roast your own in the oven or poach 2 to 3 chicken breasts. I chose to poach my chicken, which is something I did ahead of time and then refrigerated them until dinnertime.

Here’s an easy poaching method:

Place 2 to 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts into a medium-sized pot.

Pour water into the pot until it just covers the top of the chicken breasts.

Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken in is cooked.

Place the chicken breasts in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and to cool them so they can be handled. Shred the chicken into a bowl.

Now it’s quesadilla time!

Place a flour tortilla on a dinner plate.

Place the shredded chicken on top.

Next, add the spinach.

Spoon on some pico de gallo.

And finally sprinkle on some cheese.

Cover with another tortilla.

Spray a cast iron skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Cook the quesadilla on each side for 2 minutes each until the tortilla gets toasty and brown.

Like I said, toasty and brown.

Once cooked, remove the quesadilla from the skillet to a plate. Cut into quarters.

Garnish with extra pico de gallo and cheese. (Yes, I got a little carried away here). Eat it while you wait for a rainbow or the sun to shine. Enjoy!

Casting call for amateur bakers

  • For any of you amateur bakers out there, I received this casting notification from Cherish Cast. Check it out if you are interested in auditioning. The link provides audition locations and application details.

    CBS is NOW CASTING for AMATEUR BAKERS for a fun new BAKING COMPETITION SERIES!

    Are you a passionate amateur baker? Can you whip up an impressive cake, tart or loaf of bread? You may be the perfect candidate for an exciting new competition baking series on CBS!!

    Amateur skilled bakers will compete against one another in baking challenges that will test every aspect of their baking skills. At the end of the competition, one baker will ultimately be crowned the winner. The series follows the trials and tribulations of the competitors – young, old, from every background and every corner of the United States – as they attempt to prove their baking prowess.

    We are seeking all types of non-professional bakers from across the country, whether you’re an athlete, teacher, truck driver or retiree, as long as you have the zest for baking, we want to hear from you!

    If this is you or someone you know, don’t hesitate, apply today!

    To APPLY, please check out our WEBSITE:http://cbsbakingshow.com/

  • www.cbsbakingshow.com

    The Official Casting Site For CBS’s New Baking Show

Mother-Daughter Cream of Potato Soup with Dumplings

As a child, I loved my mother’s cream of potato soup. Whenever I was sick, that’s what I wanted to make me feel better, along with a hot cup of tea with cream and sugar. As a child, I didn’t realize how bland my mother’s soup tasted as it was very basic…milk, butter, onions, potatoes and a little seasoning. As I grew up and began to expand my palate, I decided to experiment with her very basic soup and make it my own. Today’s rendition is packed with flavor and lots of goodies like carrots, red onion, turkey sausage, and dumplings. No matter how much I change what I put in her soup, I still keep the basic foundation. And every time I make it, I always remember my childhood cravings and how good my mom’s soup continues to make me feel.

Soup Ingredients
1 Potato, peeled and diced
1 cup sliced Carrots
1/2 cup Red Onion, chopped
6 – 7 oz. Turkey Sausage, diced
2 1/2 cups Milk (okay to use low-fat to make this a leaner soup)
1 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsps. Butter
2 Tbsps. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper

Dumplings Ingredients
2/3 cups Bisquick baking mix (use the HeartSmart variety)
3 Tbsps. low-fat milk

First, make the roux, which is a thickening agent of equal parts fat and flour.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsps. of butter.

To the melted butter, add 2 Tbsps of flour, the salt and pepper.

Combine to get a thick, bubbly, gooey mixture.

Add 1/2 cup of milk to the roux and stir continuously over low heat until completely combined.

In a Dutch oven, add 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of chicken broth, and the roux mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, but be careful not to scorch the milk.

Once the milky mixture is boiling, add the potatoes, carrots and red onion.

Cover the Dutch oven and let the soup simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the turkey sausage in a cast iron skillet until they are slightly brown and heated through.

You also have time to make the dumpling dough by mixing 2/3 cups of Bisquick mix with 3 Tbsps. of milk until a soft dough forms (forgot to take a picture of the dough).

Once the potatoes are cooked, add the turkey sausage to the soup.

Form teaspoon-sized dumplings and drop them into the soup. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a couple of plump dumplings. Invite your mom or daughter to join you…or the whole family for that matter. Enjoy!

PAWSworthy

We’re Blue and Chloe, and since our human is away and we have finally cracked the WordPress code, we are hijacking her blog…just for a little while. We know this is a cooking blog, but we have a cause that we think is..well, quite PAWSworthy…and we’d like to discuss it with you.

Our veterinary clinic brought to our attention an amazing organization that they support…The United States War Dog Association. The U.S. War Dog Association is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that collects donated items for our K9 troops and their military human handlers who are serving overseas. Known as Military Working Dogs, these dogs serve alongside our troops, performing such tasks as sniffing out buildings for drugs and explosives, and protecting military personnel and equipment. War dogs have a long history of service all over the world and have served heroically during modern times in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, and now in the Middle East. Some die on the front lines; many complete hundreds of combat missions. We know that we couldn’t do what they do.

Photo courtesy of The United States War Dog Association

So as Veteran’s Day draws near and the holidays are almost upon us, we’re joining our veterinary clinic and donating items to this PAWSworthy cause. We are also asking our four-legged friends and their humans to consider doing the same. We know that times are RUFF right now. Money and bones are lean. But just a box of biscuits, a ball or tug rope, or a bag of candy for the handler can make a big difference for these K9s and their troops who are so far away from home. Even $20 to help cover postage costs helps tremendously.

A list of desired items can be found here.

We know also that many of you who read this blog are from countries other than the U.S. See if your country has a similar war dog association which needs help or consider sending a care package to your service men and women stationed overseas. Or make a gift to your local pet shelter. Every treat helps.

Rut row, we hear a car pulling up in the driveway. Better stop the begging and act like we’ve been taking a very long nap.

Thanks for lending an ear.

Chloe and Blue

Fell off the Wagon Caramel Apple Crisp

Yep. It’s true. My hubby and I fell off the low-glycemic wagon…again. I conducted another fridge and pantry purge over the weekend, trying to use up some ingredients and foods that I simply didn’t want to go to waste. There is nothing that I hate more than throwing away perfectly good food.

I had some tart Granny Smith apples in the fridge and a jar of sugar-free caramel sauce so I decided to make a twist on an old-fashioned apple crisp. Let me tell you, this dish tastes great and spreads a wonderful aroma throughout the house. My husband and I couldn’t wait for it to bake.

So here’s a dish for the fall and to celebrate the end of the election season, whether you are happy with the outcomes or not. The bleeping craziness is over. No more phone calls and campaigners ringing door bells, no more political flyers hung on my door and jamming my mailbox, and no more nasty campaign ads on TV. I think a little sweetness is in order, don’t you?

Ingredients
Apple Mixture:
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Sugar
1 12-oz. jar Sugar-Free Caramel Sauce

Topping:
1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
1 1/4 cups Oats
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Butter, softened or slightly melted
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg

Mix the apples with the orange juice and sugar in a bowl.

Spread the apple mixture in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or small baking dish.

Slowly heat up the jar of caramel sauce over low heat. Stir constantly until it becomes creamy. Don’t warm it at too high a heat or it will scorch. Don’t microwave it either as the same problem can happen.

Drizzle the caramel sauce over the apple mixture.

For the topping, place the brown sugar in a bowl.

Add the oats…

Flour…

and the butter.

Add the spices and combine all ingredients to get crumbly pea-sized bits of topping.

Spread the topping over the caramel apple mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly, the apples are cooked through and the topping begins to brown.

Serve with ice cream – the sugar-free variety if you have it. Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup – my absolute favorite soup on the planet, hands down. I first ate it, believe it or not, in the cafeteria at the university where I work and have been hooked ever since. Rich in simplicity, it consists of four ingredients – meatballs, chicken broth, spinach and pasta. Although traditionally served at Italian weddings (thus the name), I use it as one of my go-to soups when I have a cold or simply want some warm comfort in my system. I can’t get enough of it.

Ingredients
1 Egg, lightly beaten
3/4 lb. Lean Ground Beef
1/2 cup, chopped Onion
3 Tbsp. plain Bread Crumbs
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp. dried Parsley
Salt and Pepper
2 32 oz. containers of Chicken Broth
5 oz. fresh Spinach
1 1/2 tsp. dried Oregano
8 oz. Acini di Pepe Pasta

First, the meatballs:

Put the lightly beaten egg in a large bowl.

Add the ground beef…

Onion…

Bread crumbs…

1 Tbsp. of the parmesan cheese and the parsley.

Combine all ingredients.

Form beef mixture into meatballs, about 1 inch in size. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Place the baked meatballs in the bottom of a cast iron Dutch oven.

Cover the meatballs with the chicken broth.

Add the spinach.

And the oregano.

Combine ingredients and cover the pot. Let it simmer 10 to 15 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt.

Spinach as it gently wilts.

Cook the pasta in a separate pot for about 11 minutes. Drain and add to the soup mixture. Let it simmer for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of some of the remaining parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Diabetic-Friendly Smoked Sausage and Pepper Frittata

My husband is diabetic and has asked that I get us back on a healthier diet. I have to agree. We have fallen off the low glycemic bandwagon lately. So I will be mixing things up a bit, adding more diabetic-friendly dishes to my menu and this blog.

After a night of trying not to eat all of the Halloween candy, I decided to make this very simple and tasty frittata – which is like a crustless quiche – filled with turkey sausage, bell peppers, onion and egg substitute instead of whole eggs.

Calorie count per serving – 170. Total carbs – 13 grams. Total fat – 5 grams. Even if you are not diabetic, this recipe is also good for the waistline.

Ingredients
Nonstick Canola Cooking Spray
7 oz. Smoked Turkey Sausage, diced
1 each Red and Yellow Peppers, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped Yellow Onion
1 cup Cholesterol-free Egg Substitute
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese or Marscapone (an Italian cream cheese, it is low-calorie and gluten-free)
Black Pepper
Salsa (jar or fresh)

Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with cooking spray. Over high heat, cook the turkey sausage until it begins to brown. Remove the sausage to a plate.

Spray the skillet again and add the peppers and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes.

While the veggies are getting steamy, add the egg substitute, cream cheese and black pepper to a blender.

Puree until smooth.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the turkey sausage to the veggies. Mix together.

Pour the egg substitute mixture evenly over all.

Cover and cook for approximately 10 minutes until almost set.

Remove the skillet from heat and let sit uncovered for 3-4 minutes.

Cut into quarters and serve with salsa. This recipe comes to you “Husband Approved.” Enjoy!