Friday, September 14, 2012

Labor Day baking

I love three-day weekends, and this one was perfect. I spent a day with friends, a day with the hubby, and then had an entire day left to bake!

My pinterest recipes to try board was filling up (I'm embarrassed to admit just how many pins there were), so I thought I'd take a stab at reducing the un-tested recipes on there. I love lemon, but I'm ready for fall, so I did a little bit of summer baking and a little bit of fall baking. Perfect for this end-of-summer holiday!

 First, it was this no-bake lemon cheesecake. Unfortunately, I was multitasking, and I think I left the gelatin and lemon juice mixture for too long. I am pretty sure it's not supposed to completely set up before you mix it in. Oops! So while I imagine it would have been even better if I'd done that properly, I think it turned out OK. It certainly looked beautiful (if I can say so myself).

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
Then it was lemon cookies. Yes, more lemon. These were scrumptious, and definitely the quickest thing I made. Super easy, but I was surprised (I don't know why) that it only made about 24 cookies. I am just used to getting more cookies out of a batch.

Lemon Cookies

Finally, I made pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream. These were a real hit! The caramel was tricky, and it took me 4 tries to manage to make it without burning it (and I still think I may have taken it off the heat about 10 seconds earlier than perfect). The secret was definitely to take it off the heat at the very first sign of color. Mine kept cooking until the cream was all stirred in, so waiting to pull it off when it was already dark was way too late. And cooling it with ice isn't a good solution either - it immediately hardens the caramel (not that I'd be so foolish as to try something like that). But just in case you were thinking it. Yeah.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Oh, and I made some taco soup (a go-to in my house), but used recipes for taco seasoning and ranch mix instead of packets. I think I'd forgo the dill next time (just not a huge fan), and back off the cayenne (hubby was a little overwhelmed by the spiciness). Other than that, it was nice to use spices in my cabinet instead of having to buy something else.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Best hubby ever

Tonight my hubby took to the kitchen! We picked up some cauliflower at the farmer's market this morning, and this evening hubby made the best cauliflower gratin in the world. We threw some shake-n-bake on chicken breasts to go with it, and hubby made apple crisp for dessert that just came out of the oven. What a great Saturday dinner. Seriously, you should make this cauliflower dish. And eat it all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

ffwd - apple cake

Originally, I tried to post the photo from my phone, but it looks like that didn't work at all. Boo.

I made two Dorie apple cakes this week - her Double Apple Cake from BFMHTY and the French Fridays' recipe for the week - Marie-Helene's Apple Cake. It was a great excuse to use up some apples that a friend picked. I preferred the Double Apple Cake, and hubby preferred Marie-Helene's. Both of us enjoyed both thoroughly!

I was able to use an 8" springform for the first time on Marie-Helene's cake. I bought a set of three to get the 10" for a Martha Stewart cheesecake several years ago, and the 8" has been sadly neglected since then. My apples were smaller, and the receipe called for larger apples, so I added an extra apple, and it seemed to work out nicely. Look at that pretty browning!

I had to buy a bundt cake pan. A couple of years ago I had a fit and threw out any bundts I had because I couldn't convince a cake to come out cleanly. Given my prior fits, I'm pretty proud of how this one turned out! Maybe I can face bundts again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I have ther greatest friends! We received an ebelskiver pan and then mix and turners for it as wedding presents. Today is hubby's birthday, and that seemed like the perfect excuse to try out ebelskivers.
I had never tried them before, so I tried out a ton of different fillings (things already lying around the house). I expected hubby to prefer the jams, but he was with me on the sweeter fillings. Our favorite was the kisses. The caramel, unfortunately, just kinda flavored the pancake instead of remaining a separate filling. The peanut butter and pie fillings were great runners-up. Next time we'll try out the chocolate mix and pick up some nutella to try as a filling... and maybe some small resses cups?
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Friday, October 22, 2010

ffwd- hachis permetier

This week I was a dutiful blogger and made the delicious selection for on time! I am so glad I did. This dish is essentially french shephards pie, and it was the perfect comfort food for the cooler fall weather we have had around here.

I broke up the preparation into two days and that worked out well. All of the preparation was worth it to me. I loved this dish, and with only two of us there was enough left to freeze for dinner again later. I'm already looking forward to it. The potatoes are perfect in this recipe - I love the texture of potatoes run through the ricer. They just seem perfectly airy. And I love all the flavor the meat gets from this preparation.

Next time, I think I'll add some veggies to add a little more flavor and so that I can feel a little less guilty. I was glad I stuck to the recipe the first time around though.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie

I have been very disappointed in my own absence from the kitchen and greater absence from blogging. I thought that a new Dorie Greenspan challenge was just the thing to get me motivated again. I that each of her recipes will be a pleasant surprise, as every recipe I've tried of hers has been so far. Frankly, I worry that my husband is a bit jealous of my love for Dorie.

The challenge (French Fridays with Dorie) is in its third week, and I finally started. Although i also have the ingredients (except for the all-imporant eggs) ready to go for week 1's recipe (finally), tonight I made the recipe chosen for week 2 by Dorie herself: a mustard tart! I'm hoping that next week I can do some catching up and actually post my results on the apropriate week.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pot Roast

This will definitely become the go-to roast recipe in our house. However, in the future, I think it will be relegated to a weekend dinner, thanks to the 3+ hours it takes. It was worth every second of it though!

Pot Roast
Source: adapted from Bon Appetit (via Skinny Food by Amy)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon (packed) golden brown sugar
1 3-pound boneless rump roast
6 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 large onions, thinly sliced (I used red. Yumm!)
12 small shallots, peeled (I used chives instead. Our local grocery doesn't keep shallots in stock, so I usually sub in chives, and it has worked so far.)
12 garlic cloves, peeled
3 bay leaves
4 large carrots (about 1 pound), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix first 6 ingredients in small bowl.
Rub spice blend all over beef.
Cut 6 slits in beef and insert a clove of garlic in each slit.
Cook bacon in a dutch oven over medium heat until browned and lightly crisp.
Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot. (I left them all in.)
Increase heat to medium-high.
Add beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total.
Transfer beef to plate.
Add red wine to pot; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.
Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes.
Add broth and bacon.
Place beef atop bacon.
Scatter onions, shallots, remainder of garlic, and bay leaves around beef.

Cover pot, transfer to oven, and roast 1 hour.
Turn beef over; stir onions.
Cover and roast 1 hour longer, adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry.
Transfer beef to plate.
Add carrots and potatoes to pot; stir to coat. (Oops! I put the carrots in early... but it was all good.)
Place beef atop vegetables, cover, and roast until beef and vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes longer.
Transfer beef to platter.
Spoon off fat from surface of sauce and remove bay leaves.
Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce over beef and serve.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The absolute bestest, most amazing butternut squash soup ever

Because it's freakishly cold here (and it seems, pretty much in this half of the country), and I like soup when I'm cold. This soup will rock your world. I promise. It's from Southern Living (Dec. 2003), which is always a good sign. And there's bacon.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 bacon slices
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped (Yes, there is a theme; are you catching on?)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 (12 ounce) packages frozen butternut squash, thawed (or 3lbs fresh, peeled, seeded, and chopped)
1 (32 ounce) container low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2-3 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tbs honey
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp red pepper (or more, if you like a little spice! yum!)
1/4 c whipping cream

Cook bacon slices in oven a Dutch until crisp.
Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 Tbs drippings.
Crumble bacon and set aside.

Saute onion and carrots in bacon drippings in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
Add celery and onion and saute 5 more minutes.
Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.
Add butternut and chicken broth.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

Process squash mixture, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth (or just use an immersion blender - I had so much fun using mine for the first time!)
Return to Dutch oven (if you had to take it out).
Add lime juice and next 7 ingredients.
Simmer 10-15 minutes or until thickened.

Top with bacon and garnish (with red pepper, sour cream, etc.), if desired.

8 servings according to the recipe. I am addicted, so I'd call it closer to 6.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rosemary Crusted Pork

Another What We're Eating Recipe. This girl knows what she's doing!!! The veggies were amazing. I could have made ameal just of those. My pork loin was perfect on the end, but I ended up putting the center 1/2 in the oven for a bit to get it done enough for us. I thought the mustard sauce was wonderful (although I only had ground mustard, so used that in the place of the whole grain mustard), but Mr. L thought it was too hot/tangy for his taste. Also, she really means it when she says that you don't necessarily need to use all of the salt mixture for the pork - I used every drop, and I that was a little too much.

Bacon, Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Veggies
1 tbsp bacon fat (can substitute any oil to make it vegetarian)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
8 large brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lenghtwise
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets, stem discarded
2 cups butternut squash, peeled & cut in 1' cubes
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add bacon fat to a large pot over low heat until melted. Add garlic and rosemary; stir. Sweat over low heat for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add the brussels sprouts, cauliflower and butternut squash to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid then shake vigorously for about 30 seconds to evenly coat the veggies with the fat. Remove the lid then sprinkle with the kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Replace the lid then once again shake vigorously for about 30 seconds to evenly distribute the seasoning. Pour the seasoned veggies onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Place baking sheet into the preheated oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until well caramelized and tender, tossing the veggies every 15 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Recipe by Amanda Simpson

From post: Rosemary Crusted Pork w/ Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Veggies
Seared Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
2 tbsp canola oil, or other high-smoking point oil

In a small bowl mix together the rosemary, salt and black pepper. Liberally season all sides of the pork tenderloin with the rosemary salt. You may not need all of the salt mixture.

Preheat a large saute pan with the canola oil over medium-high heat until the oil ripples from the heat but just before it starts smoking. Place the seasoned tenderloin into the pan. Sear the meat over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes until well caramelized then flip the meat a quarter turn. Sear that side for another 4 minutes. Repeat this process two more times until all areas of the pork have a nice sear and the meat is cooked to medium, about 145 degrees. The pork should cook for about a total of 16 minutes. The larger the roast the longer it will need to cook. Let rest for at least ten minutes before slicing, allowing time for the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat. Enjoy!

Recipe by Amanda Simpson

From post: Rosemary Crusted Pork w/ Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Veggies
Tangy Mustard Cream Sauce
Tangy Whole Grain Mustard Sauce
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more if desired
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, plus more if desired

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whisk until all ingredients are completely incorporated. Taste. Adjust seasonings as desired with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Goes great with seared rosemary pork tenderloin. Can be made upto 3 days in advance and stored chilled. Enjoy!

Recipe by Amanda Simpson

From post: Rosemary Crusted Pork w/ Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Veggies

Peanut Brittle

Another ingredient I have too much of? Peanuts! I gave Virginia Peanuts as part of our oot bags for the wedding, and like everything for the wedding, I WAY over-bought! (I also bought too much dark chocolate for the chocolates that went on the cupcakes, so I was thrilled that this recipe calls for drizzling with chocolate.) So, peanut brittle, here we come.

Peanut Brittle (from food network)

Ingredients :
2 vanilla beans
3 1/4 cups or 500 grams unsalted toasted peanuts
1 scant cup or 200 grams granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon or 100 grams corn syrup
1 1/4 cup or 300 grams unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup or 80 grams honey
2 teaspoons or 6 grams salt
Optional chocolate decoration:
32 ounces bittersweet chocolate, tempered

Split vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape seeds into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, along with scraped out pods. Place remaining ingredients in saucepan and place over high heat. Cook to a caramel color while continuously stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture will become very thick. Pull out the vanilla beans and set aside. Lightly spray the work surface with vegetable cooking spray. If you would like to use metal rulers so the brittle will be rolled to an even thickness, set them into place now. Immediately pour the mixture onto the marble or granite slab (you can also use a parchment paper lined baking sheet). Place a piece of parchment paper over the hot brittle and use a rolling pin to roll the peanut brittle into a 3/8-inch thick flat layer. Use a sharp chef's knife to partially cut the brittle while it is still warm. Allow it to cool completely before coating it with chocolate. It is ready to eat now or you can add chocolate to the outside of the brittle.

To cover with chocolate: You can use a variety of methods to apply chocolate to the brittle. You could simply place some chocolate into a cornet and drizzle the chocolate over the cool brittle. You could also use a dipping fork to dip each piece of brittle in the chocolate. Whatever method you use, allow the chocolate to set and it is ready to serve

The first time I made this, it came out perfectly and wsa loved by all. When I tried it again (twice), I couldn't get it to firm up, so I don't know about the reliability factor. But when it works, it's perfection!