Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jambalaya

I have always been a huge fan of Zaarans, but Mr. L believes that jambalaya must be made from scratch. And Martha Stewart sent me an email with a link to a jambalaya recipe! And they call it "quick", which is key. Mr. L got a Le Cruset dutch oven for Christmas, and this was the perfect chance to they it out (and it's AMAZING!!!!).

Martha's Picture - mine was ugly


Quick Jambalaya

Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes with juice
1 cup long-grain rice

Directions
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
Cut into 3/4-inch pieces; set aside.
Add vegetables to pot.
Cook, stirring, 5 minutes.
Add sausage; cook 3 minutes.
Add garlic; cook 1 minute.
Stir in stock, Old Bay, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil.
Add rice and chicken.
Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.
Cover; remove from heat.
Let stand until rice is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes. (This took me longer - closer to 45 minutes.)
Season with salt and pepper.



Serves 4

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Baking


As usual, everyone on my Christmas list is getting baked goods. This year, I tried some new things and recycled an old favorite. I kept the gingersnaps in the mix, since they are a favorite, and added zucchini bread, apple butter, peppermint bark, and eggnog.

The peppermint bark was the most surprising - it was SO easy! The first batch I made according to the recipe (except without the extract, since I couldn't find any). For the second, I added a layer of dark chocolate, and that was much better. Finally, I made a batch with crushed oreos instead of candy canes - that was my favorite, but I don't really like mint. I bagged up a little of each as part of each gift.
The apple butter took up most of a Saturday, but I was very pleased with the end result. I was happy that I got to put my new food mill to work (and even happier about how much easier the mill made it!). It passed muster with my father-in-law, who is a true apple butter connoisseur.

The zucchini bread was a much sweeter bread than I expected, but I loved the sugar crust on it. It smelled awful while cooking, but turned out well, and got a ton of compliments. This will definitely be added to the regular Christmas rotation.

The eggnog was another new addition, and I went with Alton Brown's recipe, and just omitted the alcohol (since our families don't really drink). This was another hit - and easy in the stand mixer.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pork tacos with pineapple salsa

I found this recipe a while back in Cooking Light. After our last flop from Cooking Light, I was hesitant to try this one, but the pictures were so convincing! I'm glad we did try it. This definitely had more flavor than the stir-fry, and was actaully very filling. It earned a "VERY good for a light recipe" rating from Mr. L. It earned a "I'm too hunrgy, and this is too good to remember to take pictures" from me.

That's right - I forgot to take a picture of mine, so I'm tempting you with the picture that drew me in.



Chipotle Pork Soft Tacos with Pineapple Salsa (Cooking Light, May 2007)


Salsa Ingredients:
2 C minced pineapple
1 C minced apple
1/4 C minced shallots (I used 1 chopped chive instead, because that's what I had)
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 Tbs fresh lime juice (I just used all the juice from 1 lime, because who measures lime juice?!)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt


Taco Ingredients
1Tbs canola oil
1 C thinly sliced onion (It called for yellow; I used red)
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 C fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 chipotle chilis, canned in adobo sauce, chopped
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed (I used flour, because I don't love corn)



Directions
Combine all salsa ingredients in a bowl and stir.
Cover and chill.



Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add onion to pan and saute 2 min., or until tender.
Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
Add pork to pan and cook 4 min., or until it loses its pink color, stirring occassionally.
Add all remaining ingredients.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Remove cover, and simmer 10 minutes or until liquid is nearly evaporated.
Warm tortillas according to package directions.

Serve.

6 Cooking Light servings; 3 servings in my house

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving wrap-up

This thanksgiving I finally got to do most of the cooking. We got a condo with Mr. L's parents. They brought the ham and turkey (and cake and sweet potato casserole), and I made everything else. It was wonderful! The only thing that turned out a little off were the pumpkin pie (the bottom crust didn't seem fully cooked). Here's the rundown:

Corn Pudding (from the Dollywood cookbook - Tennessee Mountain Cooking)

Ingredients:
1 c corn
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbs melted butter
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 c pimento
1/4 c green pepper

Directions:
Mix together all ingredients.
Pour into a baking dish.
Bake at 350 until set (about 25 minutes).


Green bean Casserole (LOVED this) (from Paula)

Ingredients:
1/3 stick butter
1/2 c diced onions
1/2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
2 c sliced green beans
3 c chicken broth
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup
1 (2.8 ounce) can french-fried onion rings
pinch house seasoning (4 parts salt, 1 part black pepper, 1 part garlic powder)
1 c grated cheddar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Melt the butter in a large skillet.
saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter.
Boil green beans in chicken broth for 10 minutes and drain.
Add the green beans, mushroom soup, onion rings, and house seasoning, to taste, to the onion mixture.
Stir well.
Pour into a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
bake for 20 minutes, then top casserole with the cheddar and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and the cheese is melted.

Parker House Rolls (from the Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:
3 Tbs warm water
3 Tbs sugar
1 (1/4 ounce) package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c whole milk
2 c bread flour (not whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

Directions:
Stir together warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Melt 3/4 stick butter in a small saucepan.
Add milk and heat to lukewarm.
Stir together yeast mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, butter mixture, bread flour, and salt in a bowl with a wooden spoon until combined well, then stir in enough all-purpose flour to make a slightly sticky dough that forms a ball.

Butter a large bowl.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, kneading in more all-purpose flour if dough is too sticky, 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic but still slightly sticky.
Form into a ball and put in buttered bowl.
Turn to coat with butter, then let rise in bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan.
Divide dough into 20 equal pieces and roll into balls.
Arrange evenly in 4 rows of 5 in pan and let rise, covered loosely, in a warm place 45 minutes, or until almost doubled in bulk.
Make a deep crease down center of each row of rolls using length of a floured chopstick or side of a ruler.
Let rolls rise, covered loosely, 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cool slightly.
Brush tops of rolls with butter and bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
Let rolls cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.
Turn out onto rack and cool to warm.

Cooks' note:
You can make rolls 1 day ahead and keep, wrapped well in foil, at room temperature. Reheat in foil in a preheated 375°F oven 15 to 20 minutes. (This is what I did, and it worked perfectly!)


Macaroni and Cheese (slightly modified from Alton Brown's)

Ingredients:
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
1 Tbs powdered mustard
3 c milk
1/2 c yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika
1 large egg
6 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
6 ounces cubed Velveeta
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh black pepper
Topping:
3 Tbs butter
1 c panko bread crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta to al dente
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter.
Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes.
Make sure it's free of lumps.
Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika.
Simmer for ten minutes, and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg.
Stir in all of the Velveeta, and 1/2 of the cheddar.
Season with salt and pepper.
Fold in the macaroni and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish.
Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat.
Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Fresh Cranberry Relish (also from Tennessee Mountain Home Cooking)

Ingredients:
16oz fresh cranberries
1 orange
1 c sugar
1/2 c nuts (I used walnuts)

Directions:
In food processor or blender, chop cranberries into big pieces. (I used a blender, because our food processor is buried somewhere right now - I wished I had it. The blender was a bit of a hassle, because it only wanted to chop what was at the bottom, and didn't really move the berries around.)
Add nuts and chop.
Add orange and sugar and chop until desired consistency.
Refrigerate.

Note: Better if made a few hours before serving.



Cornbread and Sausage Dressing (from a local cookbook - Cooking on Hazel Creek: The Best of Southern Cooking)


Ingredients:
1/2 lb bulk pork sausage
1/2 chopped onion
4 c coarsely crumbled cornbread (less than 1 box of Jiffy)
1 c coarsely crumbled day old bread
2 eggs
2 c turkey or chicken broth (or 1 small can)
1/4 c chopped parsley (thank goodness for my little herb garden!)
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp salt


Directions:
Combine sausage and onion and cook until browned, stirring to crumble meat.
Drain off pan drippings.
Combine with remaining ingredients, and spoon the mixture into a greased 12x8 baking dish.
Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Remove cover and bake at 15 minutes longer.

Creamed Spinach (from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2 pounds baby spinach or 2 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, tough stems discarded
1 3/4 cups heavy cream or whole milk, or a mix thereof
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:
Wash your spinach well but no need to spin or pat it dry.
Place spinach in a large pot over high heat.
Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach.
Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by wringing it out in cheesecloth, putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible.
Coarsely chop the wrung-out spinach.
Wipe out large pot so you can use it again.

Heat milk or cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm.
Keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic, if using, in butter in your wiped-out large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes.
Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes.
Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes.
Stir in nutmeg, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.

Do ahead: Creamed spinach can be made one day ahead and chilled, covered then reheated over moderately low heat until hot. However, it really tastes best eaten immediately. (I made it ahead, and wished I'd made it the day of. It's just not the same!)



I did make most of it ahead, and merely cooked it the day of. I did all of the prep work at home, and then wrapped it and labeled it all with the coking times and temperatures, ready to pop in the oven on thanksgiving day. It made it easier, having already figured out what could cook at the same time (same temperatures) and what needed to go in early or late because it had a higher or lower cooking temperature.

I also made Pumpkin Pie and Mashed Potatoes, but can't remember which recipes I used for those - more than likely, they were from someone on the Food Network. ;)

Stir Fry and Fried Rice

Last night we had stir fry from a Cooking Light recipe (and yes, their recipes always do taste light to us), and tonight I chopped it all (along with some leftover ham from thanksgiving), and made fried rice. The fried rice was pretty good, but even though it's healthier, I just don't see myself making fried rice out of basmati rice again. But, I loved the chopped up stir fry in it - carrots make me happy!


Stir Fry

Ingredients
Basmati Rice (we just threw it in the rice cooker)
1 lb sirloin, cut into thin strips
1 c broccoli, chopped into florets
3 carrots, chopped diagonally
1 c snow peas
2 tbs canola oil
5 spice powder (I had 4 of the spices, so just used them)

Directions
I'm not even going to include this - it's that un-delicious.


Fried Rice

Ingredients
3-4 c day-old rice
1 c chopped up leftovers (sirloin, ham, broccoli, carrots, and peas)
1 chopped green onion (probably could have added more)
2 eggs, scrambled
4 tbs canola oil
liberal low sodium soy sauce to taste

Directions
Cook eggs until just done in a wok (or large frying pan), then set aside and clean out wok. with 2 tbs oil.
Heat remaining oil in wok, and add in rice. Break up with a wooden spoon.
Add everything else and keep adding soy until it looks/tastes right.
Cook until warmed through.
Serve with teryaki sauce (this is key).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1 chicken - three meals - no pictures

I decided that I really wanted to roast a chicken. The Saturday before thanksgiving. I think it was all the recipe searching getting to me. So... I roasted a chicken with a bunch of veggies (first shout-out to Ina of this post). For TWO. This left us with a ton of chicken and roasted veggies left over, but I was determined not to waste any of it! The chicken got chopped up and turned into chicken salad (Mr. L did the chopping - hooray!). The veggies got thrown in the food processor with chicken broth and turned into soup (thanks Ina, for that great idea!)

I have made a variation of this chicken salad before, but with much larger pieces. This time, we (Mr. L) chopped everything up much smaller, and I think that the result had a much more universal appeal. I still love it both ways, of course; but I think I'll stick with the smaller chunks when I'm sharing it.

There are no pictures today, because the roast and the chicken salad were devoured before we had a chance to take pictures (we were hungry). The may be pictures of the soup after thanksgiving; I blended it all today, and I'll heat it later this week to serve with Thanksgiving dinner.

Perfect Roast Chicken (modified from Ina Garten)

Ingredients

1 (5-6lb) roasting chicken
salt
pepper
bunch (plus 20 sprigs) thyme
1 lemon, halved
1 head of garlic, halved
2 tbs melted butter
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped into large pieces
3 white sweet potatoes, chopped
4-5 carrots, chopped
(onions would have been great, but I forgot to added one)
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
3 zucchini, sliced

Directions

Preheat oven to 425.
Remove chicken giblets. (I saved them for my pup)
Wash chicken inside and out.
Remove any extra fat or pinfeathers.
Pat outside of chicken dry.
Liberally salt and pepper inside of chicken.
Stuff cavity with bunch of thyme, lemon and garlic.
Brush outside of chicken with butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Tie legs together with string (I couldn't find any, so I skewered them together, and tuck wings under chicken.
Place veggies in roasting pan, toss with remaining thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Spread veggies around the bottom of the roasting pan, and place chicken on top.
Roast for 1.5 hours.
Remove from oven, and cover. Let sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Chicken Salad

Ingredients (these measurements are approximate)

2 c chopped chicken
1 tbs relish
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 c chopped apple (I think we used red Delicious, and left the skin on)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (or pecans)

Directions

Dump everything in a bowl and stir until combined.
Serve with ritz or on a sandwich.


Roasted Veggie Soup

Ingredients

4 c Chicken Stock
2 c Water
4 c Leftover Roasted Veggies
1 Bay Leaf

Directions

Combine half of stock, water and veggies in blender.
Combine other half in blender.
Put both mixtures and bay leaf in a pot.
Bring to gentle simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove bay leaf, and season to taste.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I had the whole post typed up and ready to go with tonight's dinner - Loaded Baked Potato Soup (from Kraft). But I deleted it. Intentionally. It wasn't worth taking a picture of, and it wasn't worth sharing the recipe. The only good part was the toppings... which were predicable and could be used on a much better potato soup recipe. This one was flavorless, and way too thin for my taste. Bleh.

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup with Herb and Gruyere Scones


Butternut And Acorn Squash Soup (from tartelette)

Serves 4 hungry people

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes (seeds scooped out & saved)
1 small acorn squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves or garlic, peeled and smashed (don't worry about mincing)
4 cups chicken stock
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or less if desired. You can also use some sage)
water
salt and pepper

Optional accompaniments:
chopped Tai chilies
creme fraiche (or sour cream)
sauteed thick cut bacon or salted and cured pork, sliced thin
seeds from one of the squashes (saute in the bacon fat for maximum flavor, and drained on paper towels)

Directions

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cubed squashes and saute for 2-3 minutes or until they start to get some caramelizing color. Add the garlic and saute one minute, stirring often to prevent it from burning (or it will become bitter). Add the chicken stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender. With an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot until smooth. If using a food processor or blender, let the soup cool a bit before processing. Adjust the consistency to your liking with extra water. Salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish as desired.

Herb and Gruyere Scones (from DesignSponge)

Ingredients

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely ground yellow cornmeal
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ pound Gruyere cheese, grated
½ cup chopped herbs (I like thyme and chives)
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten


Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper. Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and salt together into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add cornmeal and whisk together.
Add the butter to the dry ingredients, and, using the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until butter is the size of small peas.
Add the Gruyere and herbs and mix just until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Put the buttermilk and cream together in one bowl or liquid measuring cup, and then slowly add to the mixture on low speed until it is just combined and there is a little flour left on the bottom of the bowl. You may not need all of the liquid (I only used about 2/3 of it)!
Empty the contents of the bowl onto a floured surface.
Pat the dough together and work in any pieces of dry dough.
Sprinkle some flour on the top of the dough, and, either using a rolling pin or just your hands, press the dough until it is about 1 ½ inches thick.
Using a circular cookie cutter, dipped in a little flour each time, cut out the scones.
Feel free to roll any scraps together and cut those, too.
(Alternatively, you can shape the mound of dough into a rectangle about 9 by 6 inches, divide the dough in half lengthwise, and then cut each piece into 6 even triangles.)
Place scones onto prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Brush the beaten egg onto the tops of the scones and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, or until light brown on top.

Yields about 12 smaller scones or 6 big scones.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cheesy Rotisserie Chicken & Bowties

Cheesy Rotisserie Chicken & Bowties (from She's Becoming DoughMessTic)
makes 6 to 8 servings

  • Store bought rotisserie chicken, chopped or pulled into pieces
  • One standard box Bow Tie Pasta (or, in my case, half a bag of veggie spirals)
  • 1 bag shredded cheese (I used taco flavor, but any strong cheese will do)
  • 1/2 Sweet onion, diced
  • 1 Pepper, any color (I used orange this time)
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom (regular size)
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken (regular size)
  • 4 Tbsp. Melted Butter
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro (I didn't have any in the house, so I used poultry seasoning instead. I realize that it's a completely different spice, but it worked.)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325.
Cook pasta in water and can of chicken broth until nearly done.
You will be baking this pasta, so take care not to over cook it now.
Reserve a cup of the broth from the pasta to add in to the mixture.
In large bowl, combine the broth, chicken, cheese, peppers, onions, melted butter, both creams, salt, pepper & cilantro.
Stir it well and pour it in a large baking dish.
Bake covered
at 325 for 45 minutes.

We served it with biscuits. I considered adding a ritz topping, but wanted to try the recipe as it was (basically) first. Next time, I'll definitely add a topping for a little extra oomph.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Irish Chicken & Dumplings

I was very pleased with the results on this one. The house smelled irresistible by the time it was nearly ready, and the taste lived up. It was great Sunday evening comfort food. Of course, anything with a stick of butter is pretty much guaranteed to satisfy in our household. We added a little shredded cheese on top too. It wasn't necessary, but it was delicious.

Irish Chicken & Dumplings (from She's Becoming DoughMessTic)

1 large can Cream of Chicken or Mushroom Soup
4 Boneless Chicken Breasts, cut up
1 bag frozen peas & carrot mix
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
6 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cans crescent roll dough, butter flavor
1 stick butter
salt & pepper to taste
other seasonings, to taste

Boil chicken and onion until tender, about 30 minutes.
Don't drain. Add cream of chicken and butter, seasonings and potatoes.
Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 20-30 minutes
Add peas & carrots, continue to cook for 10 minutes, then add crescent rolls, torn into medium to large pieces and cook until dough is cooked through (this takes a while -maybe half an hour).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken & Whipped Sweet Potatoes




Creme Fraiche (from Joy of Baking)

Ingredients

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon buttermilk
Note: If possible, use pasteurized heavy whipping cream, as ultra pasteurized will take longer to thicken. (Mine must hve been ultra-pasturized, because it definitely took it's time!)

Directions
In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the cream to 105 degrees F (40 degrees C).
Remove from heat and stir in the buttermilk.
Transfer the cream to a large bowl and allow this mixture to stand in a warm place, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until thickened but still of pouring consistency.
Stir and taste every 6 - 8 hours.
This process takes anywhere from 24 to 36 hours, depending on your room temperature.
The creme fraiche is ready when it is thick with a slightly nutty sour taste.
Chill cream, in the refrigerator, for several hours before using.
Creme fraiche may be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.


Roasted Garlic and Herb Creme Fraiche (from What We're Eating, as are the following recipes)

Ingredients
4 large cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tsp fresh tarragon (optional)
1 fresh sage leaf
1/2 cup fresh chives
juice from 1 small lemon
kosher salt
fresh finely ground white pepper (optional)

Directions
Add all ingredients except kosher salt into the bowl of a blender. Blend at a high speed until sauce is completely pulverized to for a silky smooth puree.
Strain herbed creme fraiche through a fine mesh sieve to remove any leftover larger chunks.
Adjust the seasoning of the sauce to taste with kosher salt and, if desired, freshly ground white pepper. Enjoy!

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped in 1" cubes
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup whole milk, plus extra if necessary (amount will vary as size of the potatoes vary) (I used cream instead... because I had that or skim milk)
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
juice from 1/2 a lemon (I thought this was what made this dish perfect)
Directions
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat.
Once the water has reached a boil, add the sweet potato cubes.
Boil potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes.
To test the done-ness, stab a potato with a butter knife - if the potato is easily pierced and slides right off, the potatoes are done.
While the potatoes are boiling, add the milk and butter to a bowl of a stand mixer or to a large mixing bowl.
Drain the potatoes than add them to the bowl with the milk and butter. If using a stand mixer or hand-beater, whip the potatoes at a medium-low speed until smooth and fluffy, adding more milk if necessary to achieve a smooth but moist texture. If using a potato masher, mash until smooth, adding more milk as necessary.
Add lemon juice and a small pinch of salt and pepper to the potatoes.
Stir to combine.
Taste the potatoes. Adjust the seasoning as desired with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Serve immediately.


Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breasts

Ingredients
1/3 lb thinly sliced proscuitto ham
4 small chicken breasts
3 tbsp canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack placed in the middle of the oven.
Liberally season all areas of the chicken breasts with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Wrap thin slices of proscuitto around the seasoned breasts, covering nearly all surface area with the ham.
Heat a large oven-safe saute pan over medium high heat.
Add canola oil to the pan.
Let the oil heat for about 2 minutes or until there are small ripples in the oil but before it begins to smoke.
Place the chicken breasts into the pan with the proscuitto seam-side-up.
Allow the chicken to cook, undisturbed, for approximately 3-4 minutes or until the proscuitto has released itself from the pan and is evenly browned.
Flip the chicken and place the pan onto the rack positioned in the middle of the oven.
Bake the breasts for approximately 15 minutes or until breast are just cooked through.
Remove from oven and allow breasts to rest for at least 7 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


I added fried okra (I just bought the frozen stuff, already breaded and ready to go) and biscuits (again, I went with the canned stuff, because there were some great coupons last week). Then there were madelines from The Gourmet Cookbook for dessert. As I'm headed out of town for a few days and leaving Mr. L to fend for himself, I thought I should end on a good note. ;)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stuffed Meatloaf

OMG, I am so psyched about this meatloaf. I've been drooling over it since the first time I saw it. Seriously... everything about this shouts that it MUST be amazing. I have to admit, it more than lived up to my expectations. This was amazing (and used up a huge portion of my overgrown window herb garden)! Mr. L didn't not only didn't complain about having leftovers of this meal, he was excited enough about it to offer to come home for lunch so he could have some then!

Roasted Garlic and Ricotta Stuffed Meatloaf (from What We're Eating)

Ingredients:

For the Loaf:

1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
1/2 red bell pepper, small dice (I used green instead, since they were on sale)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lbs ground beef
3/4 lb hot italian sausage, not in casings
1/8 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp sambal oelek
2 1/2 tbsp worcestershire saucekosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the filling:
2 bulbs garlic
drizzle olive oil
8 oz ricotta
3 oz goat cheese, softened
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1/8 cup fresh basil ribbons (chiffonade)
1 eggkosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the garlic bulbs to be roasted: cut the ends off of each bulb and drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Wrap in alluminum foil and roast at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until just starting to caramelize and completely softened.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.

While the garlic is roasting, saute the veggies for the meatloaf.
Add canola oil to a saute pan over medium heat.
Once the pan and oil are hot, add the diced onions, carrots, and red bell pepper.
Sweat the veggies over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
Add the minced garlic to the pan.
Stir and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once the

garlic has been removed from the oven, begin preparing the rest of the meatloaf.
To a large mixing bowl add the sauteed veggies, ground beef, italian sausage, parsley, bread crumbs, 1 egg, sambal oelek, worcestershire sauce, and a liberal pinch of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Using your hands, mix the ingredients together working the meat as little as possible, the more it gets rough around the tougher it will be.
Stop mixing once all the ingredients are just barely combined.

Make the filling-
In a mixing bowl cream together the softened goat cheese and ricotta.
Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the bulbs and into the bowl with the cheese.
Also add the parsley, sage, and mint.
Mix until the garlic has broken up and the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
After adjusting seasoning, add one egg into the bowl, mix until the egg has been completely incorporated.

Form the meat loaf.
Place a piece of parchment paper onto a sheet pan.
Using about 2/3 of the ground meat mixture form a rectangular "boat" on the parchment paper.
There should be about 1 1/2 inches of meat on all sides and on the bottom with a large valley that will be filled with the cheese.
Next, spoon the ricotta mixture into the bowl of the meatloaf "boat" ;-) .
Not all of the cheese mixture may be necessary.
Carefully take the other 1/3 of the ground meat mixture and press it out into a similar rectangle that will fit over top of the filled meatloaf "boat".
Work the edges of the top piece of meatloaf into the sides of the bottom piece to for a sealed meatloaf.
No filling should be visable.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt.

Place the stuffed meatloaf into a preheated 350 degree oven.
Bake the meatloaf at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Some of the cheese may ooze out during the cooking process but that's okay.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Enjoy!
PS: The leftovers go great cut up and tossed with pasta!

I also roasted a couple carrots and a parsnips with olive oil and honey so there'd be a little something on the side.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

baked shrimp


...with pasta and veggies!
I bought a bag of frozen, cooked, shell-on shrimp on a whim a few weeks ago, and only afterward found out that Mr. L doesn't like shrimp cold - only hot (which I think is strange). So, I went on a search for a recipe that used already cooked shrimp. I came across one for baked shrimp on Food Lion's site. I figured I'd throw it on top of some pasta, and add in some veggies to make it a little more healthy (and a little more meal-like). We had a bag steamfresh mixed veggies to use up, and a bag of Wacky Mac corkscrew pasta, so that was that. I tossed some italian dressing

Basically, the shrimp were covered in a mixture of italian dressing, melted butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper and baked. However, the recipe called for doing it at 400 for 20-30 min. I felt that after 20 min, they were already overcooked. Also, the dressing mixture was delicious, so I thought it was wasted on the shrimp shells. Next time, I'd probably shell the shrimp and just saute them long enough to warm up over low heat with the same dressing mixture. (Although I don't know much about cooking shrimp, so that' be an experiment too.)

Amazing Shrimp Glaze


Ingredients

10 1/2 oz Cooked large shrimp

2 1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground

4 1/4 Tbs Classic Italian vinaigrette salad dressing

Juice from 1/2 lemon

4 1/2 Tbs Butter, salted


Directions

Melt butter and then combine all ingredients.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grilled Chicken And Sweet Potatoes With Orange Glaze

Mr. L has been sick (he thinks it's just a cold, I think it's flu), so I almost made chicken soup with this chicken, but he was feeling well enough to sit down to dinner tonight, so my planned menu was saved! This was pretty quick and easy, but I think I'd stick to the grill for it in the future. Cooking it under the broiler made the house quite smoky (even after I moved it down away from the broiler a touch. I liked the glaze, but I got a couple of bites of the sweet potatoes with overpowering glaze. Still, I think that variations of this will become a regular occurrence in our home.


Grilled Chicken And Sweet Potatoes With Orange Glaze (from Food Lion)

Ingredients
4 chicken leg quarters (I just used thighs... that's what was on sale)
3/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 1" thick rounds
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided

Directions
Preheat broiler.
In a small bowl, mix orange juice concentrate, maple syrup, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Place chicken and potatoes on the grill or on a sheetpan under broiler.
Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Grill or broil chicken and potatoes for 25 minutes, turning all pieces at least once.
Brush chicken and potatoes with one half of orange juice mixture, let cook 30 seconds and turn.
Brush second side, cook one minute and turn all pieces again.
Cook for one more minute.
Remove from heat and serve.

Saturday Breakfast


Mr. L's birthday was Friday, so Saturday we took our time and had a big breakfast. We cooked the two left-over pork chops from Thursday night, cantaloupe (why is it over a dollar cheaper than honeydew?!), eggs scrambled with a little cheddar, and blueberry muffins (totally from a cheap mix... but with about a cup of frozen blueberries added in because I never think mixes taste right without extra frozen fruit added in). I even made OJ (and by "made", I mean from a frozen concentrate, but with a couple of super-juicy tangerines actually squeezed and added in).


After writing this, I feel like this was the semi-homemade version of breakfast. As I photographed it, I couldn't help but think of the old cereal commercial tag-line, "part of a complete breakfast."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Granola Bars


OK, I have the strangest things lying around in my pantry waiting to be used up. This recipe works on the endless supply of flax seed and oatmeal... and cranberries and raisins and apricots and sliced almonds.

I modified this (ever so slightly) from a smitten kitchen recipe

Granola Bars

Makes 12 to 16 granola bars

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (or flax seed)
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup dried fruit, or a mix of dried fruit (I used chopped prunes, cranberries and raisins)
1/2 cup chocolate chip

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Butter an 8×12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
While the mixture is still warm, stir in the honey, vanilla and salt until the mixture is well coated, then the dried fruit and chocolate chips.
Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and press, press, press it in (wet fingers and/or a silicon spatula work great for this) until the mixture is packed as tightly as possible.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown.
Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares — your best serrated knife is great for this.

Balsamic Pork Chops with Southern Green Beans and Stuffing


Balsamic Pork Chops

Ingredients
4 pork chops (bone-in)
6oz balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)

Directions
Marinate pork chops in balsamic vinaigrette for 2-24 hours.
Grill for 8-10 min (turning once) or cook under broiler.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette (from food network)

Ingredients
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional*
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Directions
Place all ingredients in a sealable jar and shake until combined.
Southern Green Beans (adapted from from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 red onion, chopped
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
3 russet potatoes, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Place the chopped bacon in a skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain the bacon pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.
Melt the butter in the skillet wit the bacon grease over medium-low heat, and cook and stir the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the cooked bacon, green beans, potatoes, garlic, and chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat until the green beans are tender, about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with vinegar, salt, and pepper, and serve.


I also made some stuffing from a box to go along with it. I don't know why, but I have an addiction to the box. I think it has something to do with childhood memories. It was one of the first things I learned to make for myself, and all too often, while I was in college, it worked as a meal all by itself. Yum. This time, I did use chicken broth (I had plenty extra left from the beans) instead of water.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Apple Pie

We went apple picking last weekend, so I had a bunch of fresh apples to use up. I promised Mr. L a pie in exchange of going with us, so yesterday I made apple pie from a food network receipe. I poured the sugary juice from mixing the apples in the pie over the apples, and it came out a little juicy, so next time I might leave the juice out.


Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening (recommended: Crisco)
Ice water
Filling, recipe follows
Serving suggestion: warm with vanilla ice-cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium-mixing bowl cut the shortening and salt into the flour by hand or with a pastry blender hands until it's the texture of cornmeal.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ice water over the mixture and mix just until the dough is moistened.
Repeat by adding 6 to 8 tablespoons water (one at a time) until all the dough is just moist.
Take care not to over mix.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Divide the dough in half and roll into a ball.
Roll 1 ball into a circle to fit a 9 to 10-inch pie plate.
To transfer the pastry to the pie plate, wrap it around a rolling pin and ease it into the pie plate.
Be careful not to stretch the pastry.
Trim it even with the edges of the pie plate.
Add the apple filling into the pastry lined pie plate. Make sure they are laying flat.
Cut butter into small pieces and put on top of the filling.
Roll the remaining pastry into a 12-inch circle.
Place on top of the filling.
Trim off 1-inch beyond the edge of the pie plate.
Crimp the edges as desired.
Cut slits to allow steam to escape when baking.
Sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon over the pie.
Cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


Filling:
1/2 cup to 1 cup all-purpose flour
6 to 7 cups apples cut into thin slices (recommended: Green Golden and Jonathans; I used mostly Braeburns... I think)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
In a medium bowl combine the apples, with the brown and white sugar. Add flour, cinnamon and continue mixing until they are well coated.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Slow Cooker Beef with Veggies


Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
3 potatoes, cut down to 1-2" pieces
2 sweet potatoes, cut down to 1-2" pieces
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
basically, any other veggies you want to throw in
1 (3-pound) chuck roast
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions
Arrange onion, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and any other veggies in bottom of slow cooker. Season beef all over with salt and black pepper. Rub flour all over beef. Place roast on top of vegetables in slow cooker.
Whisk together tomato sauce, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, mustard powder, and garlic powder. Pour mixture over beef. Cover and cook on LOW for 12 hours or on HIGH for 8 hours.
Serve 1/3 of beef and all of the vegetables with this meal. Shred and refrigerate remaining beef until ready to use.


Leftovers:

Mr. L is getting a sandwhich with the meat for lunch tomorrow, and the rest will be frozen in two containers - one for him to eat this weekend, while I'm out of town, and the other for us to eat later, on a day I don't feel like cooking. I'll leave out enough for dinner tomorrow. (I also threw in a couple of frozen biscuits to serve with it.)

Life

The wedding was wonderful, and our honeymoon was spectacular! I absolutely loved Napa Valley. It's the perfect place to have a relaxing, romantic get-away. It was beautiful, and all-around perfect. And there was enough amazing wine to make a wine snob out of even me. Seriously... perfect.

After the honeymoon, it was back to the real world. I moved everything up here to H-burg, and Mr. L went back to work. Now, I've basically unpacked everything we need (although there are two walls still covered in boxes with things like china and books and cookbooks), and I've moved on to trying to get his old place (now, our place) to a level of cleanliness that I can live with.

I'm still looking for a job up here. It's slow going in this economy, but I'm thankful that we're able to make ends meet for a while as I look. I'm just hoping that something comes through soon. I like having the time to get the apartment set up (although we'll have to move again shortly into more permanent housing) and do some cooking, but I'm ready to have a job again. I need the excuse to meet people and keep me busy!

I have been using the extra time to cook most of our meals. And I love cooking for two! I cook real meals with multiple dishes most days. On my own, I mostly cooked quick prepared dinners and usually only ate one dish (sometimes, that was just corn or rice - that's healthy, right?). Now, meals are real meals. I LOVE it.

Tonight it was taco night - soft tacos with beef, salsa, onions, sour cream (low-fat), and freshly grated cheese. And brownies and ice cream for dessert. Tomorrow, it's slow-cooker beef with veggies. And biscuits. I swear I'll start taking pictures and posting recipes again!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spinache Quiche

I bought frozen spinach a while ago with the intention of making quiche, but never got around to it. Last night, I was determined to make some (as part of my mission to eat up the food in my kitchen before the wedding (and the move that will follow the honeymoon). I went with fat free cottage cheese over ricotta, to try to lower the calories a bit.


Cottage Cheese and Spinach Quiche


Ingredients

1c fat free cottage cheese
1 premade, uncooked crust (I was feeling lazy)
1 package (10 oz) frozen spinach
grated parmesian cheese (I dunno how much - about 1/3 of a wedge... maybe 3/4c?)
3 eggs
2-4 tbs nonfat milk


Directions

Preheat oven to 350.
Cook spinach according to package directions, then drain.
Mix eggs, milk, cottage cheese, and most of the parmesian cheese.
Add spinach.
Pour into crust.
Bake 30-50 min. - until center is set and crust edges are golden.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oatmeal Banana cups with chocolate chips

I found this recipe over at Green Lite Bites, and had to try it out.

Ingredients
3 mashed bananas
1 cup vanilla Almond milk (I used skim because that's what I had)
2 eggs
1 tbsp Baking powder
3 cups (240g) Old Fashion or Rolled Oats
1 tsp vanilla extract (I bumped this up to 1.5 since I was using boring milk)
3 tbsp (42g) mini chocolate chips (I used regular, because that's what I had in the apt.)
(I also added about a tbs of splenda, again, because of the boring milk. Next time, I'd use brown sugar instead, and maybe a touch of cinnamon too.)


Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips together, and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans.
Spray a muffin pan and/or liners with with non-stick spray.
Stir the chocolate chips into the oatmeal batter. (Instead, I didn't mix them in, and sprinkled them on top after I filled the cups with the chocolate-less batter.)
Divide batter into 15 muffin cups. They should be just about filled.
Bake 20-30 minutes, you’ll see the edges just starting to brown and they will be firm to the touch.
The Verdict
These guys are very filling, but they seemed a little flavorless and overly banana-y to me. Next time, I'd probably throw in the brown sugar and cinnamon, and use smaller bananas (mine were kinda huge). I might even try it with some sort of dried fruit mixed in to up the sweet factor - maybe raisins or cherries or apricots. But, all in all, it's a super-hearty breakfast, and I feel a little better because there is fruit involved and because there are so few ingredients (and none that required going to the store).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hungry Girl 200 under 200 Blueberry Muffins

I've been meaning to try this recipe out for a while now. I finally tried it, and I'm glad I did. It was easy to make, and the muffins were great. I loved everything about it except for blueberries. I now think that all muffin recipes should include syrup. Amazing. I think I managed to end up with sour berries. Blergh. Now I'm kinda sad that I started with a double batch and spoiled it all. :(




Edited: I tried this again, with frozen blueberries this time it was much better. But it still had a bit of an unexpected, hard-to-place after taste. It faded after the first day or two, or maybe I got used to it. Also, I think that a normal batch of six is perfect for eating for up without having to freeze any. Which is pretty much perfect in so many ways.


I did notice that in order to get the recommended number of muffins, I had to fill each muffin tin to just over full. Thankfully, wheat flour doesn't rise much, so they didn't overflow, but instead look like pretty, substantial muffins.

Hungry Girl Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup light vanilla soymilk
1/4 cup sugar-free pancake syrup
1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Original Egg Beaters)
1/4 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
3 tbsp. brown sugar (not packed)
2 tbsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread, room temperature
2 tbsp. no-sugar-added applesauce (get Mott's Blueberry Delight if you can find it!)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt


Directions:


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, Splenda, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Mix well.
In a separate, large mixing bowl, combine soymilk, syrup, egg substitute, butter, applesauce, and vanilla extract.
Using an electric mixer or a whisk, mix until thoroughly blended. (Don't worry if butter bits do not break up completely.)
Add dry ingredients from the first mixing bowl to the mixture in the large one.
Mix until completely blended.
Then fold in the blueberries.
Line a 6-cup muffin pan (or half a 12-cup pan) with baking liners and/or spray with nonstick spray.
Evenly distribute batter among the 6 cups.
Place in the oven and bake for about 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Enjoy!


MAKES 6 SERVINGS


Serving Size: 1 muffin

Calories: 137
Fat: 2.25g
Sodium: 269mg
Carbs: 26.5g
Fiber: 3g
Sugars: 7.5g
Protein: 4g

POINTS® value 2*

Wedding cupcake test 1

I'm planning to make three kinds of cupcakes for the wedding: perfect party cake, red velvet, and classic yellow with chocolate frosting. I've made perfect party cake before, and even made it as cupcakes for another friend's wedding, so I'm not worried about that one. I'm not sure of the other two recipes though, so I'm trying some out.

First, I tried this yellow cake recipe from bakerella. She said it was super-moist, so I'm not sure what I did wrong. Mine came out really dry. I wonder if it has something to do with the altitude up here? Or maybe it's just the trouble or translating to cupcakes?

I tried this one with a malted chocolate butter cream. Of course, now I can't remember where I got the recipe for the icing. Probably from Dorie or from BH&G. It was interesting, but I think I'll stick to a more traditional recipe for the wedding.
I am really happy with the way that the chocolates turned out though. It was super-easy to make them using Wilton melts, and they were surprisingly tasty too!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

Mmm. New oatmeal cookie recipe. I love my Bush Cookies, but a co-worker requested plain oatmeal raisin (I can't believe she doesn't want chocolate in them!!!), so I went hunting for a new recipe. I think I have a new favorite. These are wonderful (I think the whole tsp of salt has something to do with it).

The girls at work have come to recognize this as the goodie basket.




Soft Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
raisins or nuts (optional) (I used about 1.5 cups of raisins)



DIRECTIONS
1. In a medium bowl, cream together white sugar, butter, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.
2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda,and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats. If you are using nuts or raisins, mix into dough, combining well. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.Makes approx. 36-60 cookies, depending on how large or small you make them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yummy light pasta

I saw this recipe posted by Beantown Baker and had to give it a try myself. So Good!



I modified it a bit to take out the tomatoes (yuck!) and used the pasta and sausage I could find at the local store.

Ingredients
1 pkg veggie pasta
1 pkg turkey kielbasa
1 pkg presliced baby bellas
olive oil
1/2 package goat cheese
Directions
Chop up kielbasa and brown meat in a skillet. Set aside.
Saute the mushrooms in the same skillet. Add a small amount of olive oil to the pan if needed (I didn't).
At the same time, cook the noodles according the the package instructions.
Toss noodles, chicken and mushrooms together in a bowl.
Finally, stir in goat cheese and serve.
Nutritional Info:
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 376.1
Total Fat: 10.1 g
Cholesterol: 43.7 mg
Sodium: 615.6 mg
Total Carbs: 48.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 19.5 g

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Virginia Apple Walnut Cake

This is proof that I really need to learn to take better pictures of my food. This was beautiful. I promise. Don't let my awful pictures lead you astray. Beautiful.


For our Junior League meeting this week, I agreed to bake a dessert. It seemed like a good excuse to try a recipe from the league cookbook, so after a bit of perusal, I chose this coffee cake recipe. I know it's a pretty fall-ish recipe, but it just sounded yummy to me. I think my taste buds like to defy the season every now and then. That would also explain my recent obsession with sweet potatoes.

Virginia Apple Walnut Cake (from Oh! My Stars)


Ingredients:
4 large (about 2.5 lbs) Granny Smith apples
1/3 c honey
1 tbs ground cinnamon
3 c flour (I used all-purpose)
1 tbs baking powder
2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c vegetable oil (I used canola)
4 eggs
1/3 c orange juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c walnuts halves (I used all chopped)






Directions:
Line a 10-inch tube pan with baking parchment or coat with shortening or nonstick cooking spray (I forgot this step until it was too late - bad idea).
Peel apples and slice 1/4 inch thick.
Toss apples, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl.
Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.
Add oil eggs, orange juice and vanilla.
Beat at medium-high for 2 minutes, or until smooth.
Spread 1/3 of batter in the prepared tube pan.
Drain apples and reserve any juice.
Arrange 1/3 of the apple slices in a spoke design over the batter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Repeat the process until you've used remaining ingredients.
Pour the reserved juices over the top and arrange the walnut halves around the outer edge (this was too much work for me - I just sprinkled more chopped walnuts on the top).
Place on a baking sheet with a rim.
Bake at 350 degrees on the center oven rack for 1 hour and twenty minutes to one and a half hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (this was closer to 1:30 for me). (Cover loosely with foil if necessary to prevent over-browning).
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Loosen the cake from the side of the pan with a knife and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Loosen the cake from the tube and bottom of the pan with a knife and remove to a serving plate with a spatula.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tres Leche

One of my co-workers recently celebrated a birthday, and his cake request was for tres leche cake. I'd never made one before, so I wanted to go with a source I trusted. I found an Alton Brown recipe, and figured it was the way to go. It definitely was.


Ingredients

For the cake:
Vegetable oil
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half
For the topping:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute.
Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.
Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup.
Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake.
Refrigerate the cake overnight.
Topping:
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed.
Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I really liked it, but found that the milk glaze pooled in the bottom of the pan once a slice had been cut out. I'm not sure if this is normal, but it did deter some of my co-workers who were unfamiliar with tres leche. In general, it just wasn't a very pretty cake, so I'll spare you pictures. The topping was to die for though. I could have eaten in straight!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Libraries Rock

When I was young and car-less, I knew the greatness of the public library. I methodically worked through the entire Nancy Drew series, and many other books by making my way down the library shelf. I looked forward to my weekly-ish trips to the library, and I always left with a new stack of books to devour. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how awesome libraries are. So sad.

I instead became sucked in to Barnes and Noble culture, buying books I thought I might someday want to read because they had cool covers or were on sale. And they languished on my bookshelf. I also bought a ton of books that I did actually read, and ended up selling these on half.com or amazon.com. I read too much to keep all the books lying around. And I'm not really a re-reader. There are so many great things to read; I feel like I must move onward instead of rehashing books I've already covered. After moving to Lex (where there is no large bookstore), I switched my addiction to online book ordering. As soon as I saw a review for a book I wanted, I'd order it (and probably several other amazon suggestions), and then I'd get a happy surprise about a week later in the mail!

And then, it hit me. I work in the courthouse, and there is a public law library downstairs. I finally got around to asking if they did inter-library loans... and they do! All I have to do is go online and search the card catalogue and press a little button, and they deliver the book to the library in my building as soon as it's available. It's like amazon, but FREEEEEE!

So, thank you Roanoke Valley Libraries. Thank you very much.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Another great recipe! I found this one in Cooking Light. Apparently, I tore it out to save and try later in October 2007. I'm so sad that I waited so long to try it (but I am glad that I finally rifled through saved recipes to find something for dinner). While I've found Cooking Light's recipes to be hit or miss, this is definitely a hit. It's very light, but doesn't taste like it at all. And it has just the right amount of spinach - it's not overpowering. I'll enjoy these left-over lunches.

Cooking Light's Photo, not mine. Because I'm lazy today.



Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

2 cups Basic Marinara, divided (I just used a jar of pre-made sauce. Next time, I might thin the sauce with some water first)
Cooking spray
2 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
24 cooked jumbo pasta shells

Preheat oven to 350°.
Spread 1/2 cup Basic Marinara over bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine ricotta and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring well. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling into each pasta shell.
Arrange stuffed shells in prepared dish; spread with remaining 1 1/2 cups Basic Marinara.
Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving.



Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 4 stuffed shells and about 1/3 cup sauce)



CALORIES 329 (27% from fat); FAT 9.8g (sat 4.8g,mono 3g,poly 1g); IRON 2.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 67mg; CALCIUM 377mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39.4g; SODIUM 552mg; PROTEIN 19.6g; FIBER 4.2g

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spicy Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes

I found this recipe in Real Simple this month and gave it a shot - we loved it! Is is a surprisingly great combination of flavors, and super easy. I like easy. It is 500 calories a serving, but it's uber-filling, so I figure that is probably in line with the real calories of other lower cal recipes, once I eat enough of them to be this full.

(Real Simple's photo - because mine wasn't this pretty)





Spiced Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes

Makes 6 servings
Hands-on Time: 0hr 15m
Total Time: 4hr 30m

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks
2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
kosher salt
1 10-ounce box couscous (1 1/2 cups)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 cups baby spinach (1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped


Directions
1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beef, potatoes, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, apricots, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water.
2. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
3. Ten minutes before serving, prepare the couscous according to the package directions.
4. Add the chickpeas to the slow cooker and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Serve with the couscous and sprinkle with the almonds.
5. To freeze: Omit the couscous and spinach. Cool the beef to room temperature and divide among freezer containers or bags. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Delicious Pork Chops - easy too!

I found this recipe recently and wanted to try it out. I finally made it tonight, and it is definitely a keeper! It has just a hint of sweetness and apply-ness. Yumm! And even though you do use kind of a lot of syrup, it mostly runs off, so you aren't really eating all that. (I would have taken pictures, but I was busy eating it all, all by myself, immediately!)



Maple Pork Chops


Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

6 thick pork chops
1/2 cup/125 mL chopped onion
1/2 cup/125 mL maple syrup
2 Tbsp/30 mL cider vinegar
2 Tbsp/30 mL Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp/5 mL chili powder
1/2 tsp/2 mL salt
1/4 tsp/1 mL pepper

Place the pork chops in a baking pan or baking dish.Combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over pork chops.Bake for about an hour, until no longer pink inside. (I used not-so-thick cuts, and only needed to cook it about 30 min.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sliders

Sorry, no pictures this time! Next time, I'll try to remember to take pictures instead of ravenously devouring these as they come out of the frying pan. Seriously.

Mr. L and I wanted to do dinner at home Sunday, and couldn't come up with recipes for which we were sure of all of the ingredients while we were at the store, so we settled on burgers. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of his preferred type of bun in bun form. :( Not OK! Not to let that deter us, we found the same kind in dinner rolls, and made a plan for sliders.


Yes, we were convinced that it would have been even better with the Big City Slider Station, but we persevered.

Sliders

Ingredients
1/2 onion, chopped (this was heavy on the onion, so feel free to adjust)
1 tsp butter (optional, esp. if you use a nonstick pan)
1lb hamburger (or ground turkey, chicken, etc.)
2-3 tbs catsup
2-3 tbs balsamic vinegar
3-4 tbs Lowery's Seasoning
cheese (we used Munster, and cut each slice into 1/4s, and they were close to the right size)
1 tomato, sliced
potato rolls (cut in half to work as a bun)

Directions
Melt butter over medium heat in a frying pan.
Add onions and saute until clear.
In bowl, combine onion, hamburger, catsup, vinegar and Lawry's.
Make small patties (I was able to get 9 total), and return to frying pan.
Cover with tin foil tent and cook roughly 5 min on each side, or until almost done.
Remove foil and add cheese to tops of sliders, if desired. Finish cooking, 2-3 minutes.
Remove sliders from pan and place on/in rolls. Add a tomato slice to each. Top as desired.

I loved these! They were strong on onion flavor, but were a little different from traditional sliders with onions on top (which I'm not as big a fan of). And Mr. L was right - these rolls were amazing. I had the rest of these for the following dinner and lunch, and now I'm just a little sad that they are gone. :(

Monday, February 9, 2009

The perfect muffin quest continues

OK, the last batch of muffins was really good, but we thought that a little citrus (orange) flavor and maybe a little more exotic of a dried fruit - like cranberry (ok, so not that exotic) would really make them killer. Rather than start experimenting with something I know nothing about (and really, keeping that perfect balance of liquids is elusive to me), I thought I'd try out a couple of recipes that were already supposed to be orangy. Maybe I'd find the perfect muffin recipe, or at the least, I thought I could find a recipe that could be merged with the almost-prefect muffin. Ha!

I tried searching sparkrecipes, since that's where I found the first recipe, and I knew that it would be more likely to produce recipes that were healthy (because, after all, that is really the goal here). Here are the two I tried out. They are the only two recipes that come up when you search sparkrecipes for orange muffin.
First, I tried out the orange cranberry muffin. Just what we ordered, right? Well, first, I must disclaim that I couldn't find fresh or frozen cranberries (no dried, for this recipe!), so I substituted cherries. Mmmm... cherries. I think that they were a good choice. However, this one fails in the orange flavor, and at 164 calories and no bran falls a touch short on ideal nutrition.
Ingredients
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel (approx from one orange)
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
Directions
Combine dry ingredients.
Make a well in center.
Combine milk, egg and oil, add to dry ingredients.
Mix just til all blended together, don't over mix.
Add orange peel and cranberries.
Mix lightly.
Spoon into muffin pans lined with paper liners or well greased.
Bake at 450 for 18-20 minutes.
Number of Servings: 12
The second was the Orange Bran Flax Muffin. Once again, I had to make a supply-based substitution. I didn't have/couldn't find any wheat bran (and couldn't find my wheat germ until 2 days later), so I just used more oat barn instead. I don't know if this limited the range of flavor in these muffins, but I think it might be worth trying again to find out. To me, these at least look healthier. And they are definitely a more dense muffin (although the above muffins were surprisingly dense/filling too). The raisins were definitely necessary in these to give them a little kick, since (in spite of having two full oranges in them), the orange flavor was hard to find in these guys too. These guys came in at 180 calories, but were pretty much pure fiber, so I can deal with that.
Ingredients
1.5 cup oat bran
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup ground flax seed
1 cup wheat bran
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 oranges,cut into 1/8's
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 cup golden raisins
Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl,combine oa tbran,flour,flax seed,wheat bran,baking powder and salt.
Set aside.
COMBINE oranges,brown sugar,buttermilk,oil,eggs and baking soda in a food processor.
Mix well.
POUR orange mixture into dry ingredients.
Mix until well blended.
Stir in raisins.
DIVIDE batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake 18-20 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 5 min. before moving to a cooling rack.
makes 24 muffins

Both were pretty easy to make, although the cherry/cranberry muffins required significantly less clean up. I'm still searching for the perfect combination, but I think that the original Breakfast Muffin Bonanza is far in the lead right now.