Sunday, April 15, 2012

Breakfast Kolaches: Dough stuffed with goodness!

I love anything stuffed inside a carbohydrate shell.  It may not be good for me, but it certainly is delicious.  My husband taught me how to make awesome cabbage burgers. I always loved growing up in Cleveland surrounded delicious Polish food like pierogies.  I am always surprised how few people know what these delectable pockets of goodness entail!  Last year, Sam and I even used our homemade pasta maker to make our very own pierogies...delicoius!  However, all of these tasty treats will have to wait until a later post.  Today I will focus on a new-found love- kolaches!

Moving back to the midwest, made it possible for me to finally attend The McDonald Family Christmas, which I have always loved.  I hadn't been in many (7 years)- yikes! Flights from Colorado were always astronomical at that time of the year.  It is always a festival full of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, games, wine, beer, and food. LOTS of food!  This year was also a bit different for me. I was now the oldest cousin of 13, and at least 12 years older than many of my first cousins, I was in for a surprise.  My last family holiday celebration included a multitude of little munchkins running around the basement or swooning over the presents under the tree.  Now all of my "little" cousins had suddenly grown up, are in college, and well...were giving myself and my sisters some competition when it came to beer pong, Dance Revolution, and Lots of it.

One of the other new things I discovered while in Indianapolis for this family event, was the kolache.  In short- dough stuffed with goodness.  In Indy there is even a place that served up a variety of these delectable carb-coma- inducing meals- The Kolache Factory. We would order them for breakfast one morning and bring them back to the house to serve the masses.  Kolaches can have just about any filling you could desire: fruit, cream cheese, eggs and sausage, ham and Swiss, pepperoni and mozzerella, potato...I even recently read about someone taking their Thanksgiving leftovers and stuffing it into a kolache.  Pretty much anything goes!

When Sam and I saw these at Christmas, we both remarked, "Hey- we can make these!" And so I did.

As I mentioned, you can pretty much choose any filling you want that sound good to you.  I opted for a breakfast blend this time because we ran out of breakfast burritos, and we need something quick to reheat for breakfast on weekday mornings. I chose to do egg, cheese, and bacon, although sausage was tempting too. I had some leftover onions and red peppers in the fridge from BBQ Chicken Wraps and wanted to use them before they want bad, so I sauteed them and threw them into the egg mixture.

2 cans Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits
16 Rhode's frozen rolls, thawed and risen

1 bag of Shredded Cheese
1 bag frozen Shredded Hash Browns
1 package of Cooked Bacon
8 Scrambled Eggs
1 Egg for top of Biscuits
Any assorted, sauteed veggies you have on hand that you would like to include

First, cook your bacon.  Here is a trick that we use all the time that very few people know about: Use your oven to cook the bacon. It is super easy and use foil on the cookie sheet to catch the grease.  Set the oven at 400 degrees and cook for 20 minutes. 

Next cook your hash browns. 

Scramble your eggs.  I added the sauteed veggies. 

Next, let the bacon cool from the oven. Then crumble. 

 Whisk an egg in a bowl with about a tablespoon of water.  Set aside for later. 

Roll out each biscuit or Rhodes roll with a rolling pin or glass. Roll until it is flat. 

On the rolled-out dough, place a small scoop of the egg mixture, some potatoes, bacon, and then cheese. (I always put too much in the first few and then learn my lesson.) Make sure all fillings are room temperature! 

Carefully fold up the sides one at a time, pinching the dough together. 

Then flip the kolache over and put pinched-side down on a well-greased cookie sheet. Now, brush the top of each pocket with the egg and water mixture.  This will give them a nice golden color when they come out of the oven. 

Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each of the pastries. 

Put in the oven and cook at cook at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Every oven varies so I would check at 8 and if they aren't brown yet wait and check again until they are done.

We ate these for breakfast for the past two days and still had plenty left to freeze for later.  I put them in individual Ziplock baggies and stuck them in the freezer.  To reheat, pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until warm. 

Maybe next time, I will try another filling and make some for dinner!   

For my Colorado and Ohio peeps: Upon further inspection, I found that there are Kolache Factory locations also in Lakewood, Colorado (IF I had only known....) and in Cincinnati, Ohio!  Currently the closest to me is in Brentwood, MO.... Maybe my cousin Maddy can pick me one up! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Summer's just around the corner...

Hello all!
The temps are climbing and the sun is shining.  School is gradually coming to an end.  It is time for SUMMER!  With summer drawing nearer, this weekend I was inspired to eat light, fresh foods.  My food choices are indicating that I am definitely ready for cookouts, cold beer, and lazy days!

I had some leftover shredded BBQ chicken in the fridge that I had previously made in the crockpot and had frozen.  Last week we enjoyed some hearty BBQ sandwiches, but I quickly tired of that heavy food and was avoiding the leftovers in my fridge like the plague.  Although it was tasty, I was burnt out on the typical BBQ chicken sandwich.  I also so did not want to be wasteful, so I was looked for some inspiration on to see how I could be creative. Ultimately, I ended up going back to my old post on Buffalo Chicken Wraps and recreated them with BBQ chicken instead!

I used ready-made shredded coleslaw mix in the bag from the store, cut up some red pepper and onions, and sprinkled some shredded cheddar cheese on top.  I even squeezed a little bit of light ranch dressing and then rolled them up in some yummy cilantro-jalapeno wraps. Here are the steps:

I wrapped up 8 of them and stuck them in the fridge for the week.  YUM!  Cut one in half for a light meal, and you are all set!

I was also inspired by this yummy and EASY summer salad- Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad.  

To save time and since it is not quite corn season yet, this time I opted to use canned corn.  However, I cannot wait to make this again this summer with fresh corn, cut directly from the cob! I did use fresh vine tomatoes and basil, though.  With only a few ingredients, this was a simple 10 minute recipe. 

  We ate a bunch with our BBQ chicken wraps for dinner the other night, and then I prepackaged the rest into several small containers.  

I have been enjoying them for lunch this week at work along with some fresh snap peas,  low fat mozzerella string cheese, and baked Cheetos. I occasionally add a granola bar into the mix!

We had some leftover bananas that needed a purpose- and quick! Since my husband loves banana bread, I thought I would break out my beloved Kitchen Aid Mixer and whip up some banana bread last night, but I wanted to give it a new twist.  Looking for something with ingredients that I keep on hand, I was inspired to make this Peanut Butter Banana Bread. It turned out well, but you should know it is definitely more peanut butter tasting than banana if that is what you are craving!

With the coming of a new season, we are happy to announce our newest arrival...we went with Team Titan!  We really preferred the Tundra, but decided that the Titan was a more reasonable choice for now.  

What are your favorite summer recipes?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Trucks, Tech, and Green Chili.

I feel like a slacker, but life has gotten mildly crazy in the past two weeks.  I am not complaining, as I like the hustle and bustle, but at the same time, I am simply craving some down time.  Since I last wrote, Sam and I have been on a venture to buy a used truck.  We have spent every hour from 4 pm until 9 pm for the last 5 days after work test-driving and weighing our options.  Of course, in Iowa, the car dealerships are not right around the corner, so I have been annoyed by the drive time to both Iowa City and the Quad Cities on a daily basis to find "the one". I am proud to say, when we make big life decisions like buying a vehicle or any other big expenditure, we are extremely savvy.  We like to do our research and feel good about how we are spending our money and that it is a good investment.  However, there has to be some happy medium between being impulsive and being well-versed right?  I have been living, eating, and breathing vehicles all week, and I am ready to puke a 4x4.  We are both so indecisive and a decision must be made. We are looking at both a 2007 Titan LE and a 2007 Tundra Crew Cab. Enough power to haul our boat and our "someday" camper, as well as fit our "someday" kids.  Boy Scout Motto: Always Be Prepared.  Sometimes I think we are a little too prepared.... I will update you when we come to our conclusion!  What team are you on?  Team Titan or Team Tundra??  Please comment and chime in to help us make our decision! (See below for more details.)

In the meantime, work has gotten utterly insane, as the spring always does- standardized testing, field trips, planning, meetings about kids and with staff members abound!  This time of the year always gets a little hairy, but this year seems to be much more time-sucking. However, I was asked to team-teach a class this summer teaching teachers how to use SMARTboards and create their own lessons using SMART software.  I am seriously pumped about this opportunity and can't wait.  However, the paperwork that needs to be done prior is somewhat grueling- it is a course offered via our district, but also for re-certification credit and graduate credit, which evidently brings with it a lot more red tape, a syllabus written in advance, a professional vitae, and much more.  All due by Monday.  Between this and truck shopping, I am sorry to say that I am more than worn out!

So this is the recipe I meant to post last weekend, but never had the chance.  Remember when I spoke of that awesome green chili in my previous post about breakfast burritos? Well, after my trip to Colorado, I was on a mission.

It seems that not many people in the midwest of have ever heard of or tried green chili.  I was very surprised when in California a couple years ago. I ordered an omelette with "green chili", expecting the savory delicacy melt-in-your-mouth soup draped over my eggs, but I literally received eggs with nearly tasteless chopped green chilis. No onion.  No cumin. No sauce. Hardly what I expected and utterly disappointing.  Green chili is an awesome alternate to the traditional red chili- usually made with pork, chopped green chilis, onions, and savory seasonings.  Once the reluctant patron gets over the fact that it is green- which by the way usually it is more of a brown or even red- than they realize the true potential for this delicacy.

Green chili can be eaten many different ways including as a soup topped with cheese and sour cream or as a dip with chips...

 wrapped in a homemade tortilla or a topping for a burrito...

  ...or over eggs for a delightful huevos rancheros.  Yes, that was my stomach you hear grumbling.  It is simply delicious.

Several years ago, my husband decided to try to find a stellar recipe that captured everything we loved about green chili.  We managed to piece together a recipe that did the job.  We make it in huge batches now, sometimes fully intending to freeze it, but then gradually finishing off the entire batch throughout a week.  This  last week we made it and ate it with the fresh tortillas I bought while in Colorado.

See my previous post about the tortillas here. I took the remainder of the chili we had not eaten and made another batch of breakfast burritos and froze them for workdays.  I simply replaced the salsa with our homemade green chili.

First collect the ingredients: 

1 1/2 tsp. Granulated Garlic
2 1/2 Tablespoon Chicken Base
1 tsp Celery Salt
1 tsp Oregano
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1/2  Tablespoon  Jalapeno
1  Tablespoon  Fresh Cilantro (or to taste)
1/2  Tablespoon Chili Powder
 2 lbs.  pork cut small cubes
 1 cup cooked onion
 14 oz. chicken broth
10 oz. can green enchilada sauce
35 oz. canned chopped green chilis
1 Tablespoon chili powder (for puree)
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch (Use to thicken in the end if desired.) 

Cut the pork into one-inch pieces.  It is not important what pork you use.  I usually look for what boneless pork is on sale. Brown the pork and drain.

 Chop the onions....

Add onion and chicken broth (It will not cover meat and that is ok). Simmer approximately one hour. Stir often to avoid sticking. Continue stirring for one hour. 

Add 1 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic, 2 1/2 tablespoons of chicken base, 1 teaspoon of  celery salt, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1/2  tablespoon of chili powder and a little water.  Simmer 1 hour stir often avoid sticking.

Add 10 oz. can green enchilada sauce.  Simmer for a half hour.

Add 27 oz. of the canned chopped green chilis. (If green chilies are cold, increase to a boil).  Cook for an additional fifteen minutes. 

Puree the remaining 8 oz. of canned green chilies. Then add 1 tablespoon of chili powder. Add this puree mixture to the pot. 

Ten minutes later, add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped jalapeno, 1 teaspoon of the cumin, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the fresh chopped cilantro. 


So... What team are you on?  Team Titan or Team Tundra??  Please comment and chime in to help us make our decision!