Apricot Chicken

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Weeknight meals are tough for me to negotiate, as I am sure it is for many.  Lately, by the time, I make it home from work I just don’t have the energy to cook. As a result, my husband Brian and I eat out a lot, more than we should. We are burned out on all our favorite spots and we see our local delivery guys more than we see our family.

Recently as we started our usual debate of where we should eat that night, I realized it was time for me to find a way to cook more often.  As I was going through my long list of recipes to try, I concluded everything I was trying to make during the week took too long to assemble.  It was time to simplify things.  As I was trying to figure out which direction to take I remembered a conversation from many years ago.  Brian told me he could eat chicken every day in some form or another, so I started there, I asked myself what can I make with chicken that I haven’t tried before.  After reading over a dozen different variations on apricot chicken, I came up with this combination.  It took less than 45 minutes from start to finish.  I served it with rice, but almost anything can be paired with it, noodles, potatoes or just veggies.  As we were eating Brian exclaimed, “you definitely have to put this in the rotation.”  That is the highest compliment I can receive from him.

 

Apricot Chicken

1 ½ – 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs

1 cup apricot preserves or jam

1/2 lemon juice only, about 2 tablespoons

4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

6 dried apricots coarsely chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Place chicken flat in an oven-safe dish with sides that is just large enough to hold it in a single layer.

In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients except the dried apricots.  Pour the mixture over the chicken.  Top it with the apricots.

Bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes until it is just cooked through (chicken should no longer be pink in the middle of the thickest part)

You can make the marinade in advance, it will keep for up to 24 hours before baking

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Rice Noodles with Hoisin Meatballs

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Last week I realized eighteen months have passed since I last posted on Suzanne’s table.  I didn’t stop cooking and I haven’t stopped thinking of ideas.  I thought I should change sites, themes, the list goes on. I could come up with hundreds of reasons why I haven’t been updating this site, but today I said “no more excuses.”

If you are Facebook or Instagram friends with me, you know I post pictures of almost everything I cook. I have been getting so many requests for those recipes, I am going to be sharing them here.

Please let me know if you try any of my creations or have ideas of how to improve upon them.

I have eliminated red meat from my diet, so hard! I still drool over food pictures of large juicy burgers and steaks.  I have adapted many of my meals to substitute another ground meat for beef, feel free to use any ground meat you prefer for this dish or any I post that have ground meat in them.

This meal took me under an hour to prepare.  It is a quick weeknight dinner full of flavor.

Rice Noodles with Hoisin Meatballs and snow peas

1 pound of ground meat

3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced ginger

½ teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

8 ounces dried rice noodles

2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoon sesame oil (vegetable oil can also be used, I just like the flavor sesame oil gives your food)

2 tablespoons of oyster sauce

2 green onions, sliced thin

1 cup snow peas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking pan or sheet with foil.

Mix ground meat, ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons hoisin, 1 chopped garlic clove, salt and pepper.  Form meatballs, depending on the size you should end up with 8-12. Arrange on baking pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes.  Turn once so they are browned on both sides.  For a crispier meatball you can put under the broiler for 2 minutes.

While meat is cooking, prepare noodles according to package directions.  Rinse noodles and toss with 1 teaspoon of oil to keep them from clumping together.  Next mix together 1/3 cup water, oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 table spoon of hoisin.

Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil, once oil is hot, toss in remaining 2 cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of ginger, green onion and snow peas.  Stir fry until snow peas are bright green, about 1-2 minutes.  Add noodles to pan and toss.  Pour sauce mixture over noodles and toss until sauce is absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Divide noodle mixture and meatballs among bowls.

Note:  if you aren’t used to cooking with hoisin or oyster sauce you don’t need to go to a special market to find it.  Most grocery store chains carry these in the Asian section of the store.  You can also use any type of noodle with this dish.  I just love rice noodles more than any other type.

Chocolate Chip Puffs

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Chocolate chip cookies have played many roles in my life.  I grew up on a golf course, and for years every summer there would be a PGA tournament in August.  I am not sure where the idea came from, but one summer the neighbor down the street and I decided to sell lemonade and cookies.  I was 11 and my neighbor friend was 8.  We charged $1 for a giant chocolate chip cookie and $1 for a lemonade.  My grandmother baked 100’s of these giant chocolate chip cookies,  they were at least 5 inches in diameter, and the mother of my friend made gallons of country time lemonade. We worked our stand for 7 days and made about $1000.  It was pure profit for us, our families did not ask to be reimbursed for the supplies.  I think that they thought it was good for us to get out of the house and have a project.  For a kid, I thought I was rich, immediately I asked my dad to drive me to the mall to spend my fortune. In fact,  I still have the Coach purse I bought with part of my proceeds from that first cookie stand. We did this for two more summers and then the tournament banned anyone from selling along the golf course.

Personally,  I started making chocolate chip cookies in my teens to get the attention of the boy down the street.  I would call him up to tell him I was making cookies and he would show up at the door minutes later.  He would eat more of the raw dough than the baked cookies.

For years I hadn’t baked a cookie but when I married Brian, I would occasionally bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies, he likes them soft and almost underbaked.   I had found that they were just the consistency he likes when they were hot out of the oven but as they cooled they hardened and he was no longer interested in them.

I set out to find an alternative to a soft chocolate chip cookie and after doing some research I came up with the following recipe.  They look like a puffy, toasted ball and they stay soft long after they have cooled.  They have not lasted for more than a day in my home so I can’t say what kind of shelf life they have.  They also have a third less fat than a regular chocolate chip cookie.

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Chocolate Chip Puffs

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 8- oz. package cream cheese

3/4 cups brown sugar

3/4 cups granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 1/2  cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set to the side.  In large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and sugars, mix until creamy.  Add in eggs, one at a time until thoroughly mixed.  Add in vanilla.  In small increments add dry mixture until well combined and then fold in chocolate chips. Place spoonfuls of dough, about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  I like to line mine with parchment paper for an easier cleanup.   Bake for 9 minutes.  Cookies will look toasted but not a deep color like you would normally see with chocolate chip cookies.  Makes about 3 dozen.

(Recipe originally found on Delish.com)

 

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze

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Today is my birthday and I am thinking about birthday cakes.  My friends sent sweet messages wishing me a happy birthday, more than one person said they hoped I didn’t have to bake my own birthday cake.  As great as my mother and grandmother were in the kitchen I can’t remember one homemade birthday cake ever.  There is a picture of my first birthday and my grandmother placing a cake in front of me, it looks homemade, but of course, I don’t remember any of it.  The only birthday cakes I remember are those from my late 20’s on, my mother used to call my favorite bakery in Chicago and have them deliver some decadent creations to work.  It made me very popular for a few years, as there was cake to feed dozens.  There was a great deal of disappointment amoung my co-workers when I told my mom I really didn’t need a giant cake for my birthday.  The two cakes that stand out most are the last two cakes I ate on birthday’s past.  For my 2013 birthday, Brian and I met my parents for a birthday lunch at the halfway point between Chicago and their home in Michigan. My dad got out of the car with a giant cake box, it was one of those super sweet sugary frosting cakes you get at the grocery store.  There were four of us and that cake could have fed the entire restaurant.  The second cake that stands out in my mind is my birthday in 2014. Again it was a sugary frosted cake in a large box.  We were in Michigan for the Easter holiday, my dad had passed on the summer before, thankfully my sister and her husband were visiting from Texas, but my dad’s presence was missed. I have not eaten birthday cake since then. 

If I were to make a cake for myself today it would be my grandmother’s Sour Cream Pound Cake.  Growing up she baked this cake on a regular basis. This cake was the first cake I started making when I moved out on my own.  It is my go-to cake and the easiest cake to make, in fact, it is the easiest thing I bake overall.  You just toss everything into one bowl, mix and pour into a bundt pan.  Over the years I have made a few changes to my grandmother’s recipe, adding a lemon glaze.   I have been sharing my baked goods with friends and family, this cake is the one that is requested on a regular basis. One friend told me he could eat it more than once a week. 

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Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze 

Preheat oven to 325

Makes one 10-inch ring cake

Batter:

2 1/4 cups All-purpose flour

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 Cup Butter softened

3 Eggs

2 Cups Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 tsp Vanilla

Glaze:

2 Cups Confectioners sugar

1/2 Cup Lemon juice

2 tbsp Butter

Note:  you can make this cake without the glaze and it will still be delicious

Cake: Generously grease a 12 cup fluted bundt cake pan, I like to use the Pam baking spray, but you can also use 1 tbsp of solid shortening and a little flour

In a large bowl, blend all the ingredients until moistened.  Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool to lukewarm; invert onto serving plate.

Glaze: Using a double boiler,  mix confectioners sugar, lemon juice and butter.  Heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth.  You can also heat in microwave at 30-second intervals stirring between each 30-second interval.  Spoon evenly over the cake. Let sit for a few minutes before serving

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Happy 2017 from Suzanne’s Table

Hello Friends,

It’s been awhile since I have posted, the first twenty days of 2017 have been crazy, and I am happy to finally have the time to resume my journey with Suzanne’s Table. I am anxious to get back into the kitchen to share with you both my recipes and those from my mom’s cookbook.  I said to myself after the holidays and my 12 days of cookies project it was going to be a very long time before I made another cookie.  I was ready to cook anything else.  I lasted about a week, and there I was baking cookies to be paired with a chocolate mousse to take to a party on New Year’s eve.  I find comfort in mixing flour, sugar, and butter together along with the warmth of my oven.  Tonight I am experimenting, creating my own twist on dessert using pastry, caramel, and apples. I will share the finished project soon.

I hope you keep reading and please keep your eye out for some savory new posts.

Best,

Kristi

Day Twelve-Suzanne’s Table Twelve Days of Cookies: Peanut Butter Fudge

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My oven and mixer have been working overtime this past week, so I thought I would give them a break and share my mom’s peanut butter fudge recipe.  Brian, Kelly and I are getting ready to go visit my sister, Jenna and her husband Justin in Dallas for the Christmas holiday.  Jenna and I have been talking a lot over the past few months not only about Suzanne’s Table but also about what we wanted to do for Christmas.  Our mom passed on right before Christmas last year so neither of us really celebrated anything and we decided it was time to start our own holiday traditions.

We have been reminiscing while making plans for our upcoming Christmas dinner, about Suzanne’s tomato pudding and my favorite, her cheesy jalapeno grits.  Jenna was the one who remembered mom’s peanut butter fudge.  I could remember pan after pan of the chocolate fudge, but not this one. For most my life I was not a fan of anything peanut butter, so I think that is why I must have blocked it out, it is only recently I have acquired the taste for peanut butter.

I decided to wait till day 12 to make the peanut butter fudge so I could take it to my sister, however, after tasting it, I am not sure if it will make it there, we may eat it all on the drive down.

 

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Peanut Butter Fudge

You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup half and half

¼ cup butter or margarine

½ cup marshmallow cream

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tbsp light corn syrup

½ cup peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla

Before starting to cook, butter an 8-inch square pan.  In a large pot, combine sugars, half and half and corn syrup. Cook over low heat, stirring gently until sugar dissolves.  Raise to medium heat and cover pot fo 3 minutes to wash sugar crystals down from the side of the pot.  Uncover and place the candy thermometer in the pot, and cook to soft ball stage (235 degrees), stirring occasionally.

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When mixture reaches 235, remove from heat and add in butter, peanut butter, marshmallow cream and vanilla.  Stir until smooth. Pour into your prepared square pan. When cool cut into squares.  Makes about 1 ½ pounds.

Day Eleven-Suzanne’s Table Twelve Days of Cookies: Chocolate Crinkles

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There are so many favorite recipes in both Suzanne’s Table and my grandmother’s cookie book that I am sure I could keep posting about cookies for weeks, but as every good cook knows you have to taste along the way and keep tasting to make sure whatever you are making tastes delicious. I swear I have gained 5 pounds since this started.  This past week and a half I have enjoyed recreating and sharing my family memories but once the holidays are over I want to start talking about all the other wonderful recipes that mean something to me, but baking will always be a part of this project, just not cookies for awhile.

I am sure at some point some of you have come across a chocolate crinkle recipe.  They are quite popular, I have seen variations of this cookie with red velvet, mint, and lemon just to name a few.  Kelly told me they remind her of a snowflake.  To quote her, “Kristi they remind me of delicious chocolate snowflake if there were such a thing as delicious chocolate snowflakes.”  Of course, these cookies always made an appearance on the holiday cookie platters my grandmother put together, but I remember them for another reason.  While I was away at college, I would receive a package in the mail every few months from my grandma. These boxes would be filled with cookies, and sometimes with other hidden surprises ($$$), knowing how much I loved chocolate crinkle cookies, they were always inside. There would always be a sweet note from my grandma telling me how much she missed me and there would be enough cookies to feed my entire dorm. It is because of these memories that this recipe made the list of twelve.

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Chocolate Crinkles

Preheat oven to 360 degrees

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 oz melted unsweetened chocolate

2 cups granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup confectioners sugar

* Chill mixture several hours or overnight before baking (I only waited 3 hours)

Mix oil, melted chocolate and granulated sugar in large bowl, blend in eggs, 1 at a time until well mixed.  Add vanilla.  Stir in flour, baking powder and salt into wet mixture. Cover and chill.  Roll dough into balls, about a teaspoon full, and roll in confectioners sugar. Place balls on greased or parchment covered baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes. Makes six dozen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Ten- Suzanne’s Table Twelve Days of Cookies: Snickerdoodles

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Today I am continuing the theme of baking with kids as a fun activity over winter break or anytime.  My niece Ashley loves to bake.  She is very creative in the kitchen, she and her sister, Haley,  have created their own version of “Chopped” at home.  Whenever Ashley comes over to visit she always asks me if we can bake something.  Recently we were having a conversation about pie and she told me how she had never made one, but wanted to learn.  I told her that Auntie Kristi loves making pies and I would teach her how.

I invited her over on a Saturday afternoon to play in the kitchen.  I also managed to turn the baking lesson into a math lesson as well, giving her only the 1/4 measuring cup, I asked questions such as “if you need 1 1/2 cups of sugar, how many 1/4 cups is that?”  Knowing we had lots of time I planned for her to make a pie and a cookie. Since I am on a cookie theme until the end of the week, today’s post is about the cookies she made, Snickerdoodles to be exact.  However, it should be mentioned, that her first attempt at making a pie was a great success.

Like Kelly, Ashley is also 10 and very comfortable in the kitchen.  I showed her choices of what we could bake and once we knew what we were making I had her read the recipe to make sure she understood each step.  Ashley did everything, measured her flour out level and even, rolled the cookie balls, placed them on the sheet evenly, every step she knew what her mission was and she was flawless. Ashley’s cookies were amazing, they turned out perfectly.

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Snickerdoodles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1/ cup salted butter

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

For rolling cookies before baking:

3 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the butter, shortening, sugar, and eggs.  Thoroughly mix with electric mixer on medium speed until well combined, the mixture should have a creamy texture.  Sift together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda and salt, add this into your wet mixture.  Next, in a small bowl combine the rolling sugar and cinnamon together.  Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, about 1 tbsp per ball, and roll each one the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Arrange on ungreased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 8-1o minutes.  Edges should be set and the center still soft. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Makes about 4 dozen.

 

 

Day Nine- Suzanne’s Table Twelve Days of Cookies: Edible Holiday Wreaths

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When my husband Brian and I got married, I became step-mom to Kelly.  Brian and Kelly like to go fishing and hiking together, two activities I prefer to skip out on, so over the years Kelly and I have found our own common interests. Kelly lives with her mother most of the time, but when she spends time with us I like to have fun projects for us to do, many of them involve spending time in the kitchen. Kelly just turned 10, but she has been helping me in the kitchen since she was 5. We started with small tasks, but this past summer she successfully made quite a few recipes with little help from me.  She is great at chopping vegetables, with even more precision at making even cuts then mine tend to be.

Kelly arrived last night to spend winter break with us. She and I started talking about cookies and she immediately wanted to go to the kitchen and start creating. I chose a simple recipe that she could do on her own with my supervision.

This recipe is very similar to making a rice krispie treat, with a holiday twist.  It is easy to put together and last night Kelly made our wreaths from start to finish.  All I did was read the steps to her and made sure she was careful around the stove. If you are looking for a fun project with your kids over winter break, this one is fun.

 

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Edible Wreaths

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 tsp green food coloring

4 cups of cornflakes

40 large marshmallows

3 drops of mint extract (optional)

3 tbsp cinnamon red hot candies

Before you start cooking, line counter top with wax paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

 

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I had Kelly pre-measure everything she would need to make her wreaths

 

 

Using a large sauce pan,  begin to melt butter over low heat when melted add in marshmallows,  stir constantly until marshmallows are completely melted.  Remove from heat and add in the mint extract (optional) food coloring and cornflakes.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Butter a small spoon and drop small mounds of cornflake mixture on waxed paper.  Lightly butter fingers and form cornflake mounds into wreaths with holes in the center.  Decorate with cinnamon candies.

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Day Eight-Suanne’s Table Twelve Days of Cookies: Cranberry Bars

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Around the holiday’s the deep freezer in our garage was always filled to the top, half of that space being taken up by pre-made pie and tart shells and of course cookies.  I think my grandmother started baking for the holidays a week before Thanksgiving and finally stopping on Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning there was fresh coffee cake, rolls, and bread at dinner and of course, cookies, lemon and mincemeat tarts and an occasional pie to end the meal.

Today’s cranberry bars are one of those cookies that you can make weeks ahead of time, they freeze better than most. In fact, the note at the bottom of the recipe reads “you can freeze bars in a tightly sealed plastic container or bag for up to 12 months, to serve thaw 10-15 minutes at room temperature.”  Although, I don’t think any cookie ever lasted 12 months in our family freezer.

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Cranberry Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel

1 ½ cups quick cook oats

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ tsp baking soda

¾ cups melted butter

1 can of cranberry jelly

In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon peel and baking soda.  Stir in melted butter and mix well.  Reserve 1 ¼ cups of mixture for topping,  pat the remaining oat mixture into an un-greased pan.  I use a 9×9 pan, but for thinner bars, you can go up to a 9×13 pan.  Bake for 20 minutes

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After 20 minutes, spread the cranberry sauce evenly across baked crust, and sprinkle remaining dry mixture on top of cranberry sauce.  Lightly press into cranberry sauce.

Bake for 25-30 minutes more until top is golden.  Cool pan on a wire rack and cut into bars when cool.  Makes about 24 bars.