Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cooking for a Cause & Four Recipes!

Today I have some fantastic recipes to share with you. In addition to tasting delicious, they are part of a very special cookbook. Each recipe featured today is from the special edition Southern Living Christmas Cookbook, which is available at Dillard's at Stony Point and Short Pump malls in Richmond, VA for only $10. All of the proceeds from this cookbook go to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond, Virginia.

From their mission statement, "Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond, VA provides a home away from home for children receiving medical treatment and their families, and helps to fund programs in the local area that directly improve the well-being of children."  

When Ronald McDonald House contacted me to see if I would be interested in sharing their cookbook on my blog I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love Southern Living, and cooking and baking, but I am honored to be a part of something that can make a real difference in the lives of children and their families. 

Here is our local Ronald McDonald House:

Isn't it lovely? I was able to take a tour of the house with Director of Development, Allison Smith, and learn more about their programs and how they help families. On the tour I heard about the bond that develops among the families that stay in the house, and how meaningful it is for them to have a safe place during their child's treatment. Although each family and their child has a unique situation, they all know the feeling of being different, of having to fight a battle that not many other people understand. Wow, did that hit home. I wanted to say, you are speaking my language sister. I of course immediately thought of my sweet Emma, and how she never even had the chance to fight life's battles. As hard as this made the rest of the tour for me, it only furthered my desire to participate in this project. I want these families to have the opportunity to embrace and support each other in this beautiful place, as they fight alongside their child for health and life. 

Here are some of the sweet faces of Ronald McDonald House Richmond:

To help you get an idea of the types of delicious treats you can make after you purchase your cookbook, I will share with you a few recipes that I tested. 

The first was the Stove-top Chicken Pot Pie. This recipe was super easy, quick, and delicious. It was the perfect comfort food. 

Stove-top Chicken Pot Pie

8 frozen buttermilk biscuits
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cups chopped cooked chicken (they recommended a rotisserie chicken, which I used.)
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less fat cream cheese, cubed
1/2 (0.7-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix (about 2 tsp.)
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

1. Bake biscuits according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, saute onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until golden. Add mushrooms, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients; cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until cheese melts and mixture is thoroughly heated. Stir in peas, and cook 2 minutes. Spoon chicken over hot split biscuits. 

Yum, now wasn't that easy?! They have a Southern-Style Chicken Pot Pie recipe that I am trying next. It has leeks in it, which are my ultimate fave! Please don't judge my large portion. I was really hungry, and it was just that good. {Also, sorry for the bad picture quality…the lighting at night in my house is terrible for photography!}

The next dinner that we enjoyed from the cookbook was Rosemary Grilled Chicken. The recipe pairs the chicken with Garlic Spinach and Cheese Grits, which don't get me wrong sounds amazing, but we were curious about the Asparagus-New Potato Hash, so that's what we made on the side instead.

Rosemary Grilled Chicken Thighs 

1 garlic clove, pressed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary*
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 lb. skinned and boned chicken, thighs**
1/2 lemon

1. Combine garlic and next 6 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag, squeezing bag to combine ingredients. Add chicken, turning to coat, and seal bag. Chill 1 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high) heat. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a large piece of aluminum foil. Squeeze juice from lemon over chicken; fold foil around chicken, covering chicken completely. Let stand 10 minutes.

*Fresh thyme, cilantro, or oregano may be substituted
**1 1/2 lb. skinned and boned chicken breasts may be substituted. (This is what we used.)

Asparagus-New Potato Hash

1 lb. small red potatoes
1 lb. fresh asparagus
2 shallots, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup crumbled farmer's cheese or queso fresco
Garnish: lemon slices

1. Bring potatoes and salted water to cover to a boil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 15 minutes or until just tender; drain well. Cool 15 minutes; cut into quarters.
2. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. 
3. Saute shallots in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet 1 minute. Add asparagus, thyme, and next 3 ingredients; sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add potatoes, and sauté 3 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with cheese. 

Both of these recipes were delicious and I will make them again. The chicken was especially good, as I can be funny about eating chicken. It was super tender and flavorful, and grilling it made it extra yummy. 

After trying out a few dinner recipes I was in the mood for something sweet. The last recipe I have to share with you this evening is:

Sticky Bun-Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups pecan halves and pieces
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. table salt
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Stir together melted butter and next 2 ingredients. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup of 2 lightly greased (12-cup) muffin pans, and top each with 1 rounded tablespoonful pecans.
3. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, next 2 ingredients, and 2/3 cup water; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling three-fourths full. Place an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan on lower oven rack to catch any overflow.
5. Bake at 350 degrees on middle oven rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins, and arrange muffins on a wire rack. Spoon any topping remaining in muffin cups over muffins. Cool 5 minutes. 

These were absolutely amazing! The cake part didn't taste overly sweet, so it was well balanced with the sticky, gooey, sweet topping. I will definitely make these again. I took one for each of the girls on my team at school and they all loved them as well. 

The recipes from the cookbook that are on my "to make soon" list include: Bacon-and-Cheddar Corn Muffins, Hominy Grill's Shrimp and Grits, Spiced Pomegranate Sipper, Bacon-Onion Dip, Cornbread Tartlets with Tomato-Lima Bean Relish, Ragout of Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta, Holiday Meatloaf, Home-Style Butter Beans, Southern-Style Collard Greens, Shrimp and Grits Dressing, Waldorf Spinach Salad, Pimento Cheese Rolls, Sour Cream Cornbread, Lemon-Poppy Seed Cakes, Individual Frozen Peppermint Cheesecakes, Caramel-Pecan-Pumpkin Bread Puddings, and Coconut Joys. Oh dear, that's a lot of recipes. And that is seriously only a fraction of the cookbook. Oh, yummy!!

I hope that you will enjoy these recipes, and even more, I hope that if you are located in the Richmond, Virginia area that you will purchase one of these cookbooks. It is a beautiful cookbook and is bursting with fantastic recipes. More importantly, it helps a wonderful organization continue their mission. 

Happy eating ya'll!

I was provided the cookbook for the purpose of this post, but all opinions are my own.