March 23, 2011

The Welcome Home Dinner!

The Maine House is preparing to serve a delicious "Welcome Home" dinner for weekend guests. Not only has Darling been traveling over to Scotland for the past few weeks, but we also will be hosting out of town company for a few days. He took a few pictures around Greenock,but found work took most of his time. I have posted snapshots for you to see the area...cold and rainy, but beautiful scenery! You know so well how exhausting traveling can be....the hassle of long lines through airport gates, pulling heavy luggage all around the concourse and just the sheer pace of boarding the changing of flights! Estelle's has the perfect recipes for these hungry and tired travelers! The delicious and heart-warming aroma of homemade rolls will permeate the dining room, along with hot homemade soup in the crockpot! No need for fuss and muss late in the evening when everyone is ready to fill their tummy's with something comforting, yet not heavy! And the perfect ending will be the little bites of homemade chocolate brownies (Darling's favorite), topped with a homemade caramel sauce! Good night, sleep tight you weary jet setters!

Greenock, Scotland

A perfect soup for your favorite crockpot!

Hungry Girl's Chicken Veggie Soup
1 1/2 pounds, boneless, skinless lean chicken breasts, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups dry coleslaw mix
1 (15-ounce) can white beans (such as cannellini), drained and rinsed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, not drained
1 cup frozen peas
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus more, for serving, optional
1 bay leaf

Evenly season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Place the onion, carrots, coleslaw mix, white beans, stewed tomatoes, peas, chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, and bay leaf in the crock pot and stir. Cover and cook until chicken is fully cooked, on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
Remove and discard the bay leaf. Remove the chicken pieces and place them in a bowl. Shred each piece using 2 forks: one to hold the chicken in place and the other to scrape across the meat and shred it. Return the shredded chicken to the crock pot, and stir into the soup.
Season the soup with 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste. Garnish with additional thyme, if using. Serve up and enjoy!

Rapid Homemade Rolls
3 (.25-ounce) packets active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs, beaten
4 to 6 cups flour, plus more if needed

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the instant yeast, and warm water. Let it activate for 5 minutes until bubbly. Stir in the honey.
On low speed, add 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs. Slowly add the flour cup-by-cup until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Add more flour if it is too sticky. Portion the dough into 24 even servings. Form the rolls into desired shape and place in a cast iron skillet or on a baking sheet spaced evenly apart. Set aside and allow to rise approximately 20 minutes, or until doubled in size. Brush the rolls with melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter, and sprinkle with a little salt.

Perfect Brownies with Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter softened, plus more for greasing
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, plus more for garnishing
Caramel Sauce, for serving

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until thick and lemon-colored, about 2 minutes. Blend in the vanilla and the melted, and cooled chocolate. Slowly add in the cocoa-flour mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans, saving some pecans for garnishing the top.
Generously butter and flour a 13 by 9-inch pan. You can also use a 10-inch springform pan. Fill the pan with batter, and dot with pecans.
Bake until a wood pick or skewer inserted in the center comes out moist from the melted chocolate (not batter), about 25 minutes. The top will likely start to show some cracks - it is drier than the interior. Let the brownies cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 12 squares, or if using a round springform pan, cut into a nice big triangle. Top each brownie with warm caramel sauce!

Caramel Sauce
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Pinch coarse salt
Dash ground cayenne pepper

Caramel Sauce
Put the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a bare boil to dissolve the sugar, and then jack up the heat to a full rolling boil, and let it boil away for 20 to 30 minutes, or until brownish. Do not touch it.
As soon as the sugar is medium brown in color, whisk in the cream (carefully, it can splatter). The sugar will clump, but gradually be mixed in to the 'syrup'. Continue to boil until thicker. It will thicken even more as it cools. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Serve warm on top of the brownie! Yummy!!

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