HER Holiday Recipe Contest!


Attention “The Courier-Times” and “HER magazine” readers – HOLIDAY RECIPE CONTEST is in full swing! Enter NOW! The deadline is noon on Monday September 11th, 2017! There will be a tasting party, final judging and announcement of the $100 winner at 6:30pm Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 at “The Courier-Times” office in New Castle, Indiana. Each person may submit one original or family favorite recipe – with no known copyright. For details please check out – http://www.donnacronk.com/blog/a-new-recipe-contest-for-fall

Good luck! 

Blaise 

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Chew This! Picnic Chicken Salad 

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday! As many of you know, I write a food column for “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sundays of each month called “Chew This!” I absolutely love it and love sharing my family recipes, stories and memories. If you are in the Henry County, Indiana area – pick up a copy of the newspaper today and let me know what you think! If you are not, but would still like to take a look, sign up for an online subscription at http://thecouriertimes.com Need help with the online signing up!? Write to me and I will be happy to help! blaisethebaker@gmail.com

My newest column is all about picnics and the perfect picnic foods! I love chicken salad – and have a couple of recipes in my cookbook for chicken salad – but the recipe I am sharing now is quickly becoming my favorite! There are sweet elements, salty, crunchy and flavorful. I would love to know what you add to your chicken salad! Email me and let me know! Pack a cooler – add some ice – fix this salad along with some other picnic classics and venture out on a picnic and make memories with the ones you love. Enjoy the season!

Also my “Ask and Answer” feature is my recipe for egg salad! The “secret topping” makes all the difference with this!

Pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” TODAY and let me know what you think!


Picnic Chicken Salad

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, August 20th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Chicken Salad is Perfect Picnic Food
Blaise Doubman

I find that some of the most perfect picnic weather days are those days that are towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The weather is not too hot, or sticky. Not too humid or overcast either. The days are getting shorter but there is still just enough daylight time to get what you want to get done accomplished. I find that from about the middle of August until the end of September to be the perfect time, in Indiana anyways, for an outdoor get-together, a reunion or a picnic. Just the word “picnic” gets me thinking about little cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, fruit salads, lemonade, cold salads and icebox desserts. In my cookbook I have several recipes for cold salads, and more than one for chicken salad. Between my Mom, Darla, my Grandma Deloris and my Grandma Barbra, I am not sure who is the biggest chicken salad fan. Perhaps that is where I got my love for this classic cold salad?

When I was developing this recipe I wanted to make a chicken salad that had the things I like best inside. I am not that big of an onion fan, nor of boiled eggs or celery when it comes to my chicken salads. I prefer green grapes, toasted nuts and a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream. My friend and neighbor Jan Lines said that she preferred diced pineapple in her chicken salad, which does not sound bad! My Grandma Barbra always makes hers with a roasted chicken and my Mom usually makes hers with a mayonnaise combination. My Grandma Deloris uses salad dressing instead of mayonnaise and I have found that I like roasting chicken breasts in the oven to start off my salad. All in all, everybody makes a different salad and there are really no rules when it comes to making it, but the following is my recipe and my rules and I hope you will enjoy and serve this at your next picnic!

Picnic Chicken Salad

I like eating my chicken salad with saltine crackers but feel free to eat your chicken salad on bread, buns or even just a spoon! Tarragon brings out the flavor of chicken in cold salads so feel free to use about a rough teaspoon of the chopped herb in your salad. Also experiment with the type of grape and use red or purple if desired.

2 large chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped pecans
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
½ cup green grapes, halved

Start by cooking the chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken breasts skin side up on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake in preheated oven for exactly 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove the skin and cut the meat away from the bone. Chop into large chunks.

In a medium sized skillet, toast the chopped walnuts and chopped pecans over medium heat for about 3 minutes being careful not to burn the nuts.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream and sweet pickle relish.

In a large bowl combine the prepared chicken, toasted nuts and mayonnaise mixture. Carefully fold in the prepared green grapes. Taste. Salt and pepper to your tastes.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve and keep chilled.

Ask and Answer: I received an email from someone asking if I had a recipe for egg salad. I wrote her back and she said the recipe was the best she had ever had. I thought since the theme of this week’s column was picnic – I would share it here! Start with 1 dozen boiled eggs. Mash eggs in a large bowl with a potato masher. Add in 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Add ¾ cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons yellow squirt mustard, 1 tablespoon spicy squirt mustard, 2 teaspoons pickle juice and 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine. Sprinkle on top combination of smoked paprika, fine sea salt and garlic powder. Store and serve chilled.

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Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies

This recipe is basically what you have when you mix oats into your typical old-fashioned peanut butter fudge – cookies! These are so delicious.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies

2 cups white granulated sugar
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 heaping tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking oatmeal

Start by spraying an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray. 

In a large pot over medium heat melt and combine together the white granulated sugar, unsalted butter and milk. 

Bring to a boil. 

Boil for 2 minutes stirring continuously. 

Remove from heat and add in the pure vanilla extract and salt. 

Add in the smooth peanut butter and stir. 

Fold in the quick cooking oatmeal. 

Pour into prepared pan and allow to cool to room temperature before serving. 

Enjoy!

PIN IT: http://pin.it/C8uNf29

Chew This! Celebration Monster Cookies

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday! As many of you know, I write a food column for “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sundays of each month called “Chew This!” I absolutely love it and love sharing my family recipes, stories and memories. If you are in the Henry County, Indiana area – pick up a copy of the newspaper today and let me know what you think! If you are not, but would still like to take a look, sign up for an online subscription at http://thecouriertimes.com Need help with the online signing up!? Write to me and I will be happy to help! blaisethebaker@gmail.com

My newest column is all about celebrations – planned and unplanned and never having to find an excuse to celebrate LIFE! To help everyone celebrate my featured recipe is for “Celebration Monster Cookies”! These cookies are fabulous and are full of all kinds of delicious flavors – ground cinnamon, oatmeal, potato chips, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, candy pieces and sprinkles! Now really, how bad could that be!? I am highly recommending you stir up a batch of these for your next celebration!

Also my “Ask and Answer” feature is all about chocolate chip cookies and how to keep them from spreading. Shoutout and special thanks to Tomi White from Texas for the question.

Pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” TODAY and let me know what you think!


Celebration Monster Cookies

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, August 6th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Cookies for a Celebration!
Blaise Doubman

There is not anything I love more than a good celebration! You really do not even have to have a certain day to celebrate. Sure if may be a birthday, graduation, anniversary, Holiday or something personal to you, but a celebration can happen anytime and spur of the moment! There has been several times when I have celebrated something for someone just out of the blue. My brother getting a raise at his job, my Grandma Barba having a good Doctor’s appointment, a friend of mine finding their missing dog or even something as simple as celebrating the return of your favorite season! You may think that a celebration would have to be planned in advance, set up and stressed over. Not the case! A celebration can be spur of the moment and planned on the spot. A party to celebrate and spread love, making memories with your family and or your friends. A location, a few balloons, a couple of desserts, your favorite drinks and guess what? Instant celebration! Get creative and have fun!

Getting creative and having fun were the two most important factors when I was developing this recipe. After, of course, taste and simplicity! I have a recipe in my cookbook for “Potato Chip Monster Cookies” but I really wanted to take basic dough of that recipe and really turn up the volume. I wanted to add flavor, so I added ground cinnamon and peanut butter chips. I wanted to add texture so I added candy coated chocolate pieces and last but certainly not least, I wanted to add instant celebration, so I added in some rainbow colored sprinkles. People went crazy for these! Just looking at them would make a person think “celebration!” So fun, so flavorful and so easy to make! I hope that you make these for your next celebration party!

Celebration Monster Cookies

Use your imagination with these and add anything you like! Shredded coconut, different flavors of extracts, different flavors of potato chips, cereals, pretzels, candy, etc. Feel free to substitute the solid vegetable shortening for 2 sticks (8 oz. total) unsalted butter, but you will get a different texture profile. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days. Bake off accordingly.

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup crushed plain flavored potato chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup candy coated chocolate pieces
½ cup rainbow colored sprinkles

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the white granulated sugar, light brown sugar and solid vegetable shortening until light in color and fluffy in texture.

Beat in the large eggs, one at a time.

Add in the pure vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda, stirring to combine everything until well mixed.

Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour and quick cooking oatmeal.

Gently stir in the crushed plain flavored potato chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, candy coated chocolate pieces and rainbow colored sprinkles.

Scoop the dough out into ¼ cup size mounds and place on prepared baking sheets. Leave plenty of room between each cookie because these will spread out and grow in size.

Place baking sheets, one at a time, in preheated oven and bake for 17 minutes.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet before enjoying.

Ask and Answer: Tomi White from Texas recently asked me about how to make sure chocolate chips cookies don’t spread out, or go flat, once baked. There are really a few things a person should do to make sure your cookies don’t spread out – flatten. Make sure your butter is at soft room temperature. Never microwave your butter, especially microwaved to a complete liquid form. Also make sure that your baking powder and baking soda are both fresh. Both are pretty inexpensive, yet so very important when baking. My tip is that once you open your baking powder and baking soda – only keep them for a month, regardless. Once that 30 day period is up, throw them away and buy new. This will guarantee freshness. Also make sure your oven temperature is correct and regulated, by purchasing an oven thermometer.

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Cinnamon Toffee Banana Bread

Seriously – this is the BEST banana bread I have EVER had! My Grandma Barbra LOVED it – as did some of my local taste testers. I wanted to develop a recipe that takes your typical old-fashioned banana bread and have it be transformed into something almost magical! The cinnamon really balances well with the bananas and the toffee is just enough to take it over the top! The special mixing combination of the butter and bananas is one of the secrets to this recipe. Magical – flavorful – fabulous!

Cinnamon Toffee Banana Bread

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, soft
2 large bananas, peeled
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 bag toffee bits
2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a regular size loaf / bread pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the soft unsalted butter with the bananas. Mash the bananas with the butter and mix well.

Add in the white granulated sugar and light brown sugar and cream well before beating in the 2 large eggs. 

Stir in the sour cream. 

Next stir in the pure vanilla extract, baking soda and salt. Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour. Fold in 3/4 of the bag of toffee bits. 

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle evenly on top the remaining 1/4 bag of toffee bits. Sprinkle on the Turbinado sugar evenly. 

Place in preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Once baked remove and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the loaf / bread pan. Cut with sharp knife and serve. 

Enjoy!

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My favorite toffee bits –