Friday, September 30, 2005
Did not go so well at times today. After the fire fiasco, I should have known better than to attack something even remotely tricky.
First I cooked up Abigail's pumpkin. It most definitely is not a pie pumpkin. :-( It's missing a sweetness that is in the pie pumpkins, and it is really wet. So she didn't get to make her pie today. I have the puree sitting in the fridge draining, so hopefully tomorrow enough water will have seeped out and we'll be able to play with it then.
My second project was a Pumkin Walnut Fudge. Sounds good- doesn't it. Ah, yeah. The ingredients were simple, the direction simple. I must have done something wrong. I put the ingredients in the pan, and stirred while the sugar dissolved. The directions said to stir until dissolved, and then don't stir again while it gets up to temp. So I didn't stir and carefully watched the temperature. Well, as it's climbing and still 10 degrees from it's mark- I notice that it's starting to smell dark- you know, that burnt sugar smell. I tried to stay away and just be patient, and finally, that smell got the best of me, and I dipped my spoon in to check it. And scraped up a nice layer of black sugar. :-( The best I can guess is that I had my burner set too high, so it was scorching that bottom layer instead of coaxing it up to temp. So that was the end of that challenge. I am hesitant to try again, because I am not totally sure that the burner was the problem. There was another pumpkin fudge I saw recently on the CLBB that I will look at and see if it's worth trying.
The third project of the day was tonights dinner. I was making a pork roast with apples and sauerkraut, and I wanted something fall-inspired to go with it. Back to the pumpkin. I decided to try my hand at homemade ravioli. I know. What was I thinking! I made a simple filling of pumpkin, pepper, eggs, and asiago cheese. Then came the pasta dough. That was tough! It started out fun, making a well in flour, adding the eggs, and watching it all come together. But it was a really tough dough to work with, and according to Mario Batali, needed to be kneaded for a full 10 minutes. Ugh! It did work, and then came the rolling. Andy bought me a pasta roller 2 years ago, and this was my first attempt at using it. It would have been better if it fit my counter. It was a real struggle, and it took a long time to get all that dough rolled! After several hours I had a tray full of beautiful little pockets, ready for simmering water.
The ravioli did turn out. I tossed the boiled puffs in a sage brown butter and toasted walnuts, and then sprinkled with asiago cheese. Andy was very sad to learn that he'd eaten them all- so I guess they need to be made again. I would just like them to not take all day to come together! And of course, I had a request from my children to make normal ravioli next time.
The pumpkin battle will continue into tomorrow, as I still have plenty of pumpkin to use up, both of the fresh and canned variety. So we'll see how ambitious I get tomorrow!
Yeah...um, last night while my potato-leek soup simmerd away, I had to get supper going for the kids. Abigail requested Blue's Clues Mac-N-Cheese. Worked for me. I put the pot of water on the burner and walked away. Zander asked to go downstairs to play, and he doesn't like to go down those steps, so I carried him down, made sure he was settled okay, and headed back up. I walked into the kitchen and glanced at the stove and headed for the sink. Wait. What was that? I turn around and under my pot of simmering water were flames! It was almost funny, actually. Realizing kitchen fires can get crazy though, I stepped over and reached over the flames to turn off the burner. Then I walked across the kitchen and grabbed the baking soda. I moved the pot and doused the fire. Then I just stood there for a second. It was just a little fire, but normally in that situation, I think I would have freaked out- but I was almost scary calm about it.
So what did I learn? That I really do hate my electric range. And I really, really want a duel fuel. I have found that I like the electric oven- it does heat correctly, and evenly- which I didn't have with my gas range. But the stove top has got to go. As I write this, my drip pans are soaking in the sink, I just hope I can get those crusties off so this doesn't happen again. Oh, and I also learned that I need to purchase more baking soda to keep in the cupboard immediately over the stove.
Today after I get the stove cleaned up I am going to be baking off Abigail's pumpkin that she planted and picked in Grandma's garden. She wants to make pumpkin pie out of it. I am pretty sure it's not a pie pumpkin though, so we'll see how it works. I do have some canned pumpkin so if the cooked pumpkin is not quite right for the pie, I can use it for something else and give her the canned pumpkin to use. And, before it gets warm again, I am going to try something else with pumpkin. Tune in later to find out what. I promise you won't be disapponted. (providing it works! ;-p)
Thursday, September 29, 2005
This last week I picked up some yukon gold potatoes and some leeks to make a new recipe in this months Cooking Light, Golden Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts. I wasn't quite sure when I was actually going to make it- but today at Sam's I got my hands on a pair of piping hot baguettes- and that cemented it for me. Soup tonight. It was pretty good. I halved the recipe- as it was just me, and I used homemade chicken stock instead of the canned veggie called for. Other than that, I made the recipe mostly as written. Oh, and I used half-and-half instead of whipping cream. If I have whipping cream in the house I will whip it and eat it any way I can, so I try to only buy it when I really need it. I thought half-and-half would do this time. And it did. The only change I would make if I made it again would be to elminate the water completely and use all stock-whether chicken or veggie. And the cheddar toasts really complemented the soup nicely. I would make both again.
The second challenge today was brought to me by Abigail. She told me the other day that she wished she could have hot lunch so that she could have the chocolate cookies with M&M's. Well, since I know very well that she won't eat the rest of the hot lunch, I decided it was a challenge to come up with those cookies.
I really hunted high and low for a basic chocolate cookie. You would think they would be everywhere- but I couldn't find what I was looking for. I finally decided on a recipe posted over on Cookie Madness- Chewy Chocolate Cookies. I logged onto Allrecipes and printed out the recipe. Then while walking home with the kids, we headed over to the store to pick up some eggs. While we were there, it occurred to me that there is a good chocolate cookie on the back of a bag of Reese's PB Chips- so we picked up a bag of those as well so that I had the recipe. So I made my cookies- omitting the chips, and adding 2 cups of regular size M&M's. They turned out very good. They work for Abigail, that's for sure. The funny part comes in when I walk to the computer and pick up the recipe I didn't use. It was exactly the same as the one from the PB chips- except it had chocolate chips listed. :-) So it will be repeated with the M&M's- but no one really gets credit for it. Here are the recipes- Enjoy!
Golden Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts
See All Dinner Tonight Recipes
Yukon gold potatoes are the key ingredient to give the soup rich, buttery flavor.
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 medium)
6 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (14-ounce) cans organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
2 thyme sprigs
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut sourdough French bread baguette
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Thyme sprigs (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°.
To prepare soup, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (do not brown).
Add potatoes, water, salt, broth, and 2 thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.
To prepare cheddar toasts, place baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 7 minutes or until toasted. Turn slices over; coat with cooking spray, and sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese over each slice. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with red pepper.
Remove pan from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Partially mash potatoes with a potato masher; stir in cream. Sprinkle with black pepper. Serve with cheddar toasts. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup soup and 1 toast)
NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 299(25% from fat); FAT 8.6g (sat 4.7g,mono 2.7g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 7.5g; CHOLESTEROL 25mg; CALCIUM 113mg; SODIUM 660mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.4gMark Bittman Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2005
Chewy Chocolate Cookies I
Submitted by: Linda Whittaker
"These are GREAT chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Always a request at Christmas from friends and family!" Original recipe yield: 4 dozen.
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 9 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies will be soft. Cool slightly on cookie sheet; remove from sheet onto wire rack to cool completely.
This recipe is featured within our Allrecipes cookbook. If you would like to learn more, please click http://allrecipes.com/arcookbook/.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The first product I will review is Yoplait's new Chocolate Whips. Now, I really don't like Yoplait's line of whips. If I want yogurt- I want yogurt. Normally the whips are way too sweet for my taste- and definitely not substantial. I don't know for sure, but I also doubt they carry the same health benefits of traditional yogurt. However, the chocolate whips are a category all their own. Copps in Green Bay carries them in Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry and Chocolate Raspberry. All I can say is yum. It is a perfect little something when you just want chocolate. Because it is in a yogurt container you can pretend it's good for you! They are on the sweet side, but not overly sweet. My least favorite is the chocolate cherry, as it has that slight almond flavor- moreso than cherry. The calories for 1 serving of chocolate whip is 160- which is a little on the steep side, but it is better than a brownie. My usual Brownie is around 298 calories for 1 brownie- so thatis substantial savings in calories. So my recommendation for Yoplait Chocolate Whips is a big thumbs up.
The second product I have to review comes from the cereal aisle. I have become quite the fan of oatmeal. And I don't mean instant powdered oatmeal. I'm talking about steel cut Irish Oats that take a good 15 minutes to fully swell up and burst with goodness. The coarser the beter, actually. I can't tell you the last time I had instant oatmeal, or even quick- cooking oats in the house. Anyway, I was looking for something new to try and stumbled upon Mother's Mulitgrain Hot Cereal. It contains 100% natural rolled rye, barley, oats,and wheat. Sounded good to me. Oh, it is wonderful! It actually only cooks in a few minutes. I have been throwing in a handful of dried fruit along with the cereal, and it needs very little as far as a sweetener goes. It's so good, and it really sticks with me. What's rare is that I can stick with the recommended serving amount- add my dried fruit and a drizzle of milk, and it's a fabulously healthy breakfast- and I feel like I'm spoiling myself. I just wish I'd found this cereal during berry season. It would be phenomenal with some juicy blackberries and a drizzle of honey. So Mother's Mulitgrain Hot Cereal gets a huge thumbs up from me!
If you have a favorite new something that you would like me to try and review- let me know, I will be open to suggestions! And I'm always up for a challenge- well, unless mice are on the menu. :-)
This morning, Zander and I went to church to do my weekly cleaning. Now, I know there has been at least one mouse who has taken up residence in our church. I clean every week and am frequently taking care of the tiny droppings. Andy has put out those sticky traps to no avail. Now while there have been several reports of mice sightings- I never saw one, and never worried about it really. Until today.
Today I met my nemesis.
And I am afraid of mice! I opened up the closet door to retrieve my cleaning suppplies, and there he was. Sitting right on top of the vaccum! He turned and glared at me with those nasty little beady eyes, and twitched his whiskers at me!!! Of course, like any sane person I screamed bloody murder and slammed the door. Then I grabbed Zander who had followed me in and we ran to the other side of the church, as if that mouse would have swallowed up my precious boy had I left him in the room. Ugh. I get the shivers just thinking about it. It was so, so icky and creepy. Blech. I had made up my mind to call Andy and tell him that he was cleaning the church on Saturday, because I simply could not go back to that closet. Well, Pastor Mark chose that moment to show up at church, and while he is not fond of mice himself, he was kind enough to retreive the vaccum for me so that I could finish my cleaning. But let me tell you, I avoided the ladies bathroom and that dreaded closet like it contained the plague! Andy IS going to have to clean the bathroom and closet- and by golly that mouse had better be out of there ASAP- because I don't think I can stomach being in the same building as that horrible twitchy creature!!!!
So today I am overwhelmed with an urge to clean my house and wash my hands 800 times- and will take a very long hot shower this evening. I doubt I will do much cooking at all today. Maybe tomorrow I will feel a little cleaner and ready to tackle a delicious new project!
Monday, September 26, 2005
Yesterday I had another happy moment in the kitchen. I recently picked up The Bread Bible and made my first recipe out of it. It was a simple hearth bread- and a little involved- but the end product was so wonderful. I don't know why I avoided that book for so long! One of my recent accomplishments has been to bake pretty good bread- but I want to take that a step further, and I certainly did that yesterday. I will certainly share the recipe is someone is interested- but it's pretty long so I may have to e-mail it. Let me know if you're interested. In the meantime I will share some of the details. :-)
This was my first experience with a "sponge", and certainly won't be the last. Basically the sponge is the water, yeast, and some flour combined and left to grow and ferment. It imparts a fabulous flavor to the bread- slightly tangy, and also adds to the tenderness I believe. Sourdough is a perfect example of bread made with a starter. I made my starter before going to church in the morning, and 4 hours later I started the kneading process. I love to knead bread. This also was different. I started the kneading, and kneaded for about 5 minutes. Then I covered the bread and let it rest for 20 minutes. Then I continued kneading for another 5 minutes, or until I felt the texture change- and it noticably changed! I baked the bread after spritzing it with water, and steamed it by throwing some ice cubes into a preheated cast iron pan.
The bread was perfect. It was made with just 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour thrown in- and the flavor from that! The crust was so wonderfully chewy, and the bread had a moist, tight crumb that tore beautifully. I am sure the chewiness is from the steam- and I hope to make this bread again tomorrow because my mouth is watering just thinking about it! :-)
In other news, Abigail has her very first field trip to the apple orchard tomorrow. She is so excited. I'm not sure if she is more excited about the actual field trip, or riding the school bus to the field trip. I will be anxious to pick her up from school tomorrow. Today she picked her special pumpkin from Grandma's garden and declared that it will become pumpkin pie. I'm not sure it's a pie pumpkin, but I will be a good Mommy, and on Friday while she is at school, I will bake the pumpkin for her to turn into a pie when she gets home. She has really taken an interest in the kitchen lately. I'm looking forward to the holidays this year. Actually, Zander wants to help too. I made marinated olives yesterday and he wanted to "pinch" the asiago cheese into the olives for me. It's soooo nice to have a kitchen big enough that my two kids can stand on chairs at the counter and help me out. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it! Andy took pictures of it- so maybe someday I will post that. (Gotta get that digital camera on my Christmas list!)
Friday, September 23, 2005
SO I'm not posting much today- I apologize for that. The fiddle is broke is a reference that I really don't feel well. Zander has had a bit of a cold- and my thoughtful son shared. Of course I never get a "bit" of anything.
So since I am unwell, I have a pot roast going in the crockpot. Pot roast is one of the few things I make in a crockpot that doesn't have that crockpot flavor to it. In reality, mine is super simple. I take a good size chuck roast, season it with salt and pepper, and throw it in the pot. I pour an undiluted can of Campbell's French Onion soup over the top and turn it on low for about 6 hours. For the last two I will throw in some vegetables, and turn it up to high. I forgot to get the soup yesterday and since I don't feel much like going out, I made my own condensed soup- sort of. I took a cup of boiling water and added 2 teaspoons beef soup base. Then I added a handful of dried onion slices from Penzeys. The roast got extra seasoning with Chicago Steak Seasoning. I made sure the onions were soft from the hot broth before pouring it over. The canned soup is easier and lazier- but the homemade version is actually better, so it all works out okay.
Hopefully tomorrow I will feel like cooking. If not, Sunday I am making a Mexican inspired dinner, and I will be sure and post recipes then. Happy weekend!
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Today I successfully mastered the art of chicken stock. Being a thrifty girl at times, I have tried over and over to make homemade chicken soup with homemade chicken stock. Yet I have always found my homemade stock to be SEVERELY lacking. It always tasted like a pot of nothing, and I have always had to add several scoops of chicken soup base. Until today. I loosely followed the directions given by Sara Moulton to make a brown chicken stock. And here is my process.
I started with the remains of two chickens I had made recently. I took two whole chickens and cut them myself into pieces. Then I took the backs, wings, necks and gizzards and tossed them in the freezer for later. It was those rejects that I used for the stock. After a quick defrost in the microwave, I seasoned the pieces with seasoned salt, pepper, and Penzey's Fox Point seasoning. I baked them in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes- flipping them over once. While that was roasting in the oven, I prepared my aromatics. I took 4 whole carrots, washed them and cut them into 4 chunks a piece- discarding the stem end. I also used 2 celery stalks- cut into 4 pieces each, 1 large onion, peeled and quartered, 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp whole peppercorns, and about 1/2 tsp dried thyme. I added the roasted chicken to this- leaving the juices and drippings in the roasting pan. Then I added water to cover the chicken and veggies, as well as a few healthy pinches of kosher salt.
Then I poured the drippings into a measuring cup and let that sit for a few minutes. Once it had settled I drained the fat off and added those fabulous juices to my stock pot. Then I used boiling water to deglaze my pan and added that to the stock pot as well. (I forgot to mention that I discarded the gizzards, hearts, and livers after roasting- I did not add those to my stock pot. ) Next, I brought my stock pot to a gentle boil and turned it down to simmer. The important part is here. I left it alone. About once an hour I would give it a gentle stir and a taste. At first, I was so disappointed, and thought I had better give it more time, adn while I was at it, I should add some more salt. Bingo. Every time I tasted, it tasted better and better. I am certain it was part patience, and part seasoning. The fact that I continued to add healthy pinches of kosher salt while it simmered away really brought out the flavors. After about 4 hours, I had myself a pot of chicken stock. :-) I strained out the chickens and veggies and tossed them- their flavors were gone.
I used the stock tonight to make some chicken soup for supper- it was the best chicken soup I ever had. It was just plain old chicken soup- but that stock is pure golden goodness. NOw I have a huge meal of soup ready to go in the freezer for another time AND I also have 2 quarts of homemade chicken stock in the freezer, ready and waiting. I am looking forward to repeating this many times, and having a plentiful supply of chicken stock on hand at all times. Yeah me!
It gets better!
I also made Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. Oh my. Let me start off by saying that thses should be renamed "Oven Baked Fudge" because these brownies are absolute perfect fudgy goodness. I am not crazy about the edges- I may have overbaked them by 2 minutes or so, but once I trim away the crust, oh man. And of course, the recipe makes a sheet pan. Seriously. Ina calls for them to be cut into 20 brownies. I could easily get 60 out of this pan. A little goes a long way here for me. I love that this recipe can be made well ahead of time- Ina says up to a week ahead. And they must be refrigerated. If you make these- do not skip the refrigeration process, and above all, do not give in to temptation and sneak a taste warm- you will be sorely disappointed. And yes, these ingredients are correct. A pound of butter, pound of chocolate chips, 1 cup of flour...try it, you'll see. :-)
* Exported from MasterCook *
Pound unsalted butter
1 Pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet. Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.
Description: "Makes 20 Large Brownies" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NOTES : Notes from Contessa: Flouring the chips and walnuts keeps them from sinking to the bottom. It is very important to allow the butter to cool well before adding the chocolate chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies. This recipe can be baked up to a week in advance, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated
Sunday, September 18, 2005
And speaking of zest, I FINALLY got a microplane. I don't know what I was doing without one!! Oh my gosh- lemon zest was such a piece of cake. Usually I use my box grater, so I have to wrap it in plastic, zest, and then go back with a toothpick to clean out those rediculous holes. Hooray for the microplane! I've given several as gifts, but I never splurged on one for myself. I did so yesterday at Williams-Sonoma. I also bought a nice half-sheet pan, as I haven't had one, and I've been dying to make Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. So I imagine I will be making those soon and posting quite the review. In the meantime, make some marinated olives!
Friday, September 16, 2005
Anyway, I am debating on whether or not I need/want a panini maker. There is a big part of me that says "Hey, it's just fancy grilled cheese!" But I wonder if it would make a difference? Today for lunch I made the most wonderful grilled cheese for Andy and I. I could easily make different kinds of grilled cheese any day of the week. Hence the panini maker. It might be fun to play with.
The sandwiches I made started with slices of white bread. The filling was: Monterey Jack cheese, carmalized onions, Irish Blue Cheese, Roasted red peppers. It was so simple- yet so good. I don't know which part I liked best, but Andy informed me that he will never eat grilled cheese again without the roasted red peppers. :-)
This morning I also made breakfast- simple scrambled eggs and bacon. But- I have to tell you about my new favorite spice blend from Penzey's. Their California Seasoned Pepper is awesome! It didn't do much for us as far as steak was concerned, but it really perked up the eggs, and it is equally good on the grilled chicken we had tonight for dinner. If I was stuck on a desert island with my choice of only two jars from Penzey's- it would be Fox Point and California Seasoned Pepper. So if you haven't tried them- shame on you! Go to www.penzeys.com and order some right away! You will have it in a few days. :-)
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Anyway, since I try so hard to be a good Mom, last night (late last night), I decided I needed to make her some new cookies for lunch- and I needed to make them a hearty cookie. That way is she only ate her cookies, I would know she ate something partially substantial- as substantial as a cookie can be I suppose. So here's the recipe I started with:
* Exported from MasterCook *
White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the rolled oats, white chocolate chips and pecans. Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.
I took that cookie recipe, added a teaspoon of cinnamon, and eliminated the white chocolate chips and pecans. I added 1 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts, 1 1/2 cups raisins, and 3/4 cup of sweetened coconut flakes. The cookies turned out really well. It's a pretty dense cookie, and I made them a little large, but really, quite good. I didn't think of it at the time, but I think I would like to try subbing whole wheat flour for some of the white. And I think I will also add some mini chocolate chips next time. The original recipe I found on Cookie Madness, but I think it was created/develpoed/tested by Valchemist from the CLBB. I'm not entirely sure of that though, but I don't want to steal credit for an already spectacular cookie recipe. :-)
And speaking of Cookie Madness, I have added 2 more blogs to my links. I have been enjoying their cooking adventures- I hope they don't mind me adding a link! Do check them out- very yummy stuff going on in blog-world.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 C. half and half
Pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp. California Seasoned Pepper (Penzeys)
Dash Penzey's Fox Point
2 Slices prosciutto, chopped
2 TBS Irish White Cheddar cheese, crumbled
1 small roasted red pepper, finely diced (about 2 TBS when chopped)
1/8 C. finely chopped broccoli
Combine eggs, half and half, salt and seasonings. Beat well with a whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients, and pour into a greased small baking dish. Bake at 400 for about 15-20 minutes, or until set.
Now I am off to find a good recipe for Caramel Apple Pie. If I meet success there, I will be sure and share it. :-)
Sunday, September 11, 2005
And for dessert I have a nice ooey-gooey brownie pudding cake hot out of the oven. In a few minutes I will whip the cream, and our evening will close with perfect goodness. So until tomorrow... :-)
This last few days we had a very nice visit with Andy's parents. We had a really lovely time visiting and I am pretty sure that they enjoyed spending time with the kids too. I think that Abigail is a little sad today because she just loves "being with that Grammy." But it really was a nice visit. I can't say that I cooked anything really special while they were here- but yesterday Mom and I went to a very nice Farmer's Market and I got a beautiful collection of tomatoes, so we had a nice composed salad with dinner that consisted of tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and fleur de sel. Oh, that was a great find. We also made a trip to the fromagerie and got some great cheeses and had a cheese plate yesterday afternoon. We had two Irish cheeses that were phenonmenal! I want to go back and explore more Irish cheeses. We had an Irish white cheddar that was creamy and smooth, and slightly nutty, and slightly sweet. Oh, it was so good. The othre Irish cheese was an Irish Blue. Oh my. I suspect it was a triple creme, because it was just that, super creamy and slightly fruity, and slightly salty. It didn't have the tang that a lot of blues have, and I really enjoyed it. I am trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers today- it deserves a star treatment. I am toying with a pear and walnut salad, but I am also debating picking up some steaks and doing a topping- we'll see. Check me out tomorrow to find out what I do!
And lastly, it was also bake sale weekend. I was asked to bring 2 dozen baked somethings to our church bake sale. The sale was being run by our youth- with all proceeds going to Katrina relief. Well. First of all, I could not just do 2 dozen anything. Second of all, in my opinion, bake sales always lack big time. Bake sales should be full of those goodies grandma used to make, and that someone put a lot of time and effort into. Not the. "I'll pick up a box and make this and try and sell ot." Or even worse, picking up something pre-made and re-packaging it. Anyway, I digress. I really went all out, and I think I want to do something like that again. It really was fun spending a day in the kitchen making goodies for an army. I started with Cinnamon Scented Rice Krispie treats topped with chocolate ganache. Then I added Peanut Butter Chippers, Coconut Biscotti dipped in Chocolate Ganache, White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, and my triumph of the day was Orange-Walnut muffins with Lingonberry Preserves. The white choclate oatmeal cookies can be found at www.cookiemadness.blogspot.com and they really are very good. I left out the nuts, added a few dashes of cinnamon, and dumped in a bag of craisins. Oh, yummy. The PB chippers were a standard PB cookie recipe, but I chop the chocolate chips before dumping them in, and I make them small. Two bites and they are gone. I do want to share the recipe for the Orange muffins, They are very good, and I had fun coming up with it. The lingonberries are found in a jar by the canned fruits at my grocery store. These ones I found in a jar, and it simply says Swedish Lingonberries. It does have added suagr and pectin, so it is very similar to a wholeberry cranberry sauce, only I really think the lingonberries have a more delicate flavor. I REALLY like them. Anyway, if you can't find lingonberries, you could get a good substitue by reaching for whole-berry cranberry sauce. Just make sure you buy a good brand. Of course, if you are lucky you can find lingonberry jam at some farmers markets and general stores, so if you have some actual jam- use that.
Orange-Walnut Muffins with Lingonberry Preserves
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 C. mandarin orange yogurt (yoplait is a good one here)
1/4 C. light sour cream
1 tsp. very finely grated orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
12 TBS lingonberry preserves
Preheat oven to 400. Spray muffin cups (Either use pan or liners, just make sure you spray!)
Combine all ingredients except walnuts and lingonberries. Fold in walnuts. Batter is very thick. Spoon half of the batter into the muffin cups. Use a spoon or your fingers to make a little "cup" in the top of the batter. Spoon a tablespoon of preserves into each muffin. Top with the remaining batter, spreading to the edges. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.
These muffins keep very well- and are just as good the next day. I have toyed with the idea of adding a tiny bit of streusel or cinnamon sugar to the top...I'm just not sure they need it, but it would look good. Be sure you check them at 20 minutes- they may need a little longer, so don't be afraid to give them an extra few mintues. Enjoy!
Thursday, September 8, 2005
So for a casual dinner tonight I made two recipes from Rachel Ray, and am quite happy with the results actually. I made her Potato, Tomato, and Spinach Soup- which really was super simple, and quite good. The only adjustment I made to the recipe was to add some frozen tortellini for the kids- and it really completed the soup, IMO. It was a light soup anyways, and the pasta made it more of a meal. I think I will add tortellini again. The only warning I have about this recipe is the nutmeg. It really does work in this soup- but you definitely can taste it, so if you have any aversion to nutmeg, leave it out. The recipe says it serves 4- and let me tell you, it made a lot of soup. You could easily plan it to serve 6 or 8 as a first course or with a sandwich.
The second recipe is actually two, and I really changed the one, so I'm not sure it counts... but it's a panini with pancetta, roasted peppers and mozarella. I didn't make panini's though. Instead, last night I made a whole wheat french bread and today I sliced it in half, filled it with the panini fillings and popped it in the oven to let the fresh mozarella get all melty. Oh, it was quite good. Do make it- in a panini or a hot sub as I did. I also had had an eggplant sitting around that needed to be used, so I made Giada's Caponata. Caponata is an Italian relish, and it was quite good, albeit a little on the spicy side. The recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoe, and I grabbed a can of Fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilis. So it added a bit of heat- yet it is still good. I had a little on my sandwich, and it was good, but I preferred the sandwich by itself. The caponata will be around for a few days and make its way into other sandwiches and other applications that I come up with. The only change to the caponata was the amount of oil. I only used about a drizzle of oil at the beginning. 1/4 cup is a lot of oil to get absorbed by that eggplant.
So here are the recipes
* Exported from MasterCook *
Potato, Spinach and Tomato Soup Recipe
Recipe By : courtesy Rachael RayServing Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:10
3 cloves crushed or finely chopped garlic
1 large onion -- chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 quarts chicken broth
3 pounds all purpose potatoes -- peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound fresh triple washed spinach -- stems picked and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg -- grated or ground
Salt and pepper
1 can chunky-style crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes in puree -- (28-ounce) 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano
In a deep pot, saute garlic and onion in oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add broth and bring liquid to a boil. As you slice potatoes, add them carefully to the broth. Cook potatoes 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The potatoes will begin to break up and thicken broth as the soup cooks. Stir in spinach in bunches as it wilts into soup. Season soup with nutmeg, salt and pepper, to your taste. Stir in tomatoes and heat through, 1 or 2 minutes. Remove pot from the stove to a trivet. Stir grated cheese into your soup and serve.
Source: "30 Minute Meals"Start to Finish Time: "0:20" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
* Exported from MasterCook *
Panini with Prosciutto, Roasted Pepper and Mozzarella
Recipe By :Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:05
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma
8 thin slices chewy -- crusty Italian bread from a large loaf
1 jar roasted red peppers -- (16-ounce) drained well
1 pound fresh mozzarella -- sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil -- for drizzling
Preheat a grill pan or large nonstick griddle over medium to medium high heat. Build your sandwiches: place 2 or 3 slices of prosciutto on 1 piece of bread. Top with an even layer of roasted pepper and an even layer of sliced mozzarella, top with another slice of bread. Drizzle the tops of your assembled sandwiches with extra-virgin olive oil. Place the olive oil coated bread face down on the grill or griddle and drizzle the opposite side with additional extra-virgin olive oil. Weight the sandwiches down with a tin foil covered brick or a heavy skillet filled with a sack of flour or heavy canned goods. Press the sandwiches 2 or 3 minutes on each side, then serve immediately.
Source: "30 Minute Meals"Start to Finish Time: "0:06" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
* Exported from MasterCook *
Recipe By : Recipe courtesy Giada De LaurentiisServing Size : 6
1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk -- chopped
1 medium eggplant -- cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper -- cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion -- chopped
1 can diced tomatoes -- (14 1/2-ounce)
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon drained capers
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and saute until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Season with salt. Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, raisins, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, and capers. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Source: "Everyday Italian" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Just thinking about this morning brings tears to my eyes. I took Abigail for her first day of Kindergarten today. She woke up this morning with the biggest smile on her face. She gave me the biggest hug- I almost started crying right then. I had decided to make waffles for her for the big day- and she cheered at that. :-) That was fun. Our walk to school showed the grown up side of Abigail too. She declined a ride in the wagon and walked beside me the whole way. She held my hand for most of it, talking about how much fun she was going to have, and all the friends she was going to make. Then we got to school. We met some kids that Abigail knew, and they helped her to find her line on the playground. That was so sweet. I stood by that line with another Mom that I know. I was doing really well until she looked at me- eyes welling up and said "How are you doing?" It took me second to answer. And of course, I was totally honest "I'm not doing very well, I think". I was grateful to be holding Zander in my arms. It gave me something to do, and he snuggled right back. Such a sweet boy. The bell rang, the kids all lined up, and off they went into school. Abigail never even looked back. It was a long walk home for Zander and I. He rode in the wagon, pointing out squirrels and birds, and I kept thinking that before I know it, it will be him that I am sending into school for the first time.
So far I have spent today playing with my son. Now he is napping, but already today he is amazing me. He called for Abigail twice this morning, and I imagine will do so again when he wakes up. Fortunately we will be heading back up to school shortly after he wakes up. We spent this morning playing cars, and puzzles, and playing outside blowing bubbles, and riding the "wee!"- which is Zander speak for the slide. He did take a short break to watch a bit of Barney ( got the dishes done then) and then a little bit of computer time. He definitely felt like a big boy sitting in that chair playing his game. Every once in a while he would say "uh-oh" and I knew that was the signal that he's pushed the wrong button. So I would fix it for him- but he amazes me with his speaking ability, and his comprehension. "No Zander, Abigail's at school." to which he would say "Oh, right." LOL. I am grateful to have him to keep me company while ABigail goes to school. I don't know what I'll do when it's his turn!
Well, I have things to do. Andy's parents are headed this way for a visit this weekend, and I have much to do- and no energy to do it. :-) First on this afternoon's agenda is to finish putting my desk together. The I need to clean the kitchen counter and I hope to get the dough going for some bread. Tomorrow night I am trying a new pair of recipes from 30 Minute Meals 2- by Rachel Ray. I am making a tomato, potato, and spinach soup with a Roasted Red Pepper and Mozarella Panini. Only I'm not making panini's. Instead I am going to make some whole wheat French bread and top it, and turn it into a toasted sub. Simple supper of soup and sandwiches- only with a little flair. I hope it turns out well. I will post the recipe and results when I get a chance.
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Back to the stew. This is a lovely Indian dish- very simple, justa few ingredients, but oh so good. Seriously, this is lick the spoon AND the pot good. I like to top mine with a cucumber raita. A cucumber raita is sooo simple. Simply take a cucumber and grate it into some plain yogurt (or sour cream if you are out of yogurt). Raita is a great cooling complement to the heat of many Indaian dishes. I serve the stew over brown rice to complete the protein with the lentils. Finally, I add a touch of sweet. Normally, I saute a handful of almond slices and raisins in butter. Mmm. Truly, that is what makes this dish. Sad for me I found today that I was out of almonds, so I pulled a jar of Major Grey Mango Chutney out of the pantry to try. Blech. I can't say that I've ever had chutney before- but I definitely did not like this. I will try making my own chutney sometime before I pass judgement completely- but ew. After a few bites, I decided to scrape off the chutney and just add a handful of plain raisins. The raisins were good, but I missed the almonds. Thankfully, this recipe makes enough for 8 people, so I will have leftovers for myself for the week. Tomorrow I will pick up some almonds and finish the dish properly. Here is the recipe for anyone adventurous enough to try it- please do, it really is wonderful. And say a little prayer for my friend bob while you're at it. And Bless him for sharing it!
* Exported from MasterCook *
LENTIL & POTATO STEW
Recipe shared by bobmark
1 cup lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large potatoes -- peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes (2 to 3)
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
Salt to taste (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large tomatoes -- peeled and chopped, or 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes (I use crushed, and have even used sauce in a pinch)
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp sugar or honey
Water -- if necessary
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, water, salt (if desired0 and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low, and simmer the lentils until they are just soft, about 30 minutes.Do not drain the lentils! Discard the bay leaf, then set the lentils aside.
2. In a large dutch oven or saucepan with a nonstick surface, heat the butter or margarine and oil briefly, and add the potatoes. Sprinkle them with the turmeric, cayenne, salt (if desired), and pepper. Cook the potatoes, tossing them, over medium heat, for about five minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, the reserved lentils and their cooking liquid, the garam masala and the sugar or honey to the potatoes.
4. Cook the stew over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes (I go a bit longer until I reach a thickness I like), stirring the mixture from time to time and adding water if the stew seems to be too dry.
Serving suggestion: Serve with a cucumber raita or a mixed green salad and brown or white rice or an Indian rice with peas.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NOTES : Notes: I almost serve this over brown rice with a dollop of either low fat sour cream (usually) or yogurt on top and as many different chutneys as I can find on the side! By all means use the three potatoes, really big ones, to stretch the dish. I also increase the spices on the potatoes because I like the play of the various flavors, turmeric for sweetness, cayenne for heat, and salt for...well...saltiness, which I think typify the best Indian dishes.
Brody also points out that you can make a reasonable facsimile of garam masala by combining equal amounts of cardamon, cumin, cinnamon, coriander with smaller amounts of ground cloves and black pepper.
Saturday, September 3, 2005
So enjoy the pudding cakes! I post these specifically for the people who have been enjoying the blueberry pudding cakes. Gives these ones a try- you won't be sorry. And let me know if you have a favorite pudding cake. I will try and track the recipe down and post it for you!
Blackberry-Lemon Pudding Cake
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups blackberries
3/4 teaspoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl; add the buttermilk, lemon rind, lemon juice, butter, and egg yolks, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into the buttermilk mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Fold in blackberries.
Pour the batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Place in a larger baking pan; add hot water to larger pan to depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Sprinkle cake with powdered sugar. Serve warm. Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 285(23% from fat); FAT 7.2g (sat 1.7g,mono 2.8g,poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 6g; CHOLESTEROL 89mg; CALCIUM 86mg; SODIUM 198mg; FIBER 3.3g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51.2gCooking Light, JUNE 2001
Brownie Pudding Cake
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of the cocoa powder, and the baking powder.
Add milk, oil, and vanilla.
Stir until smooth.
Stir in nuts.
Transfer batter to an ungreased 1-quart casserole.
In a small bowl stir together 1/3 cup sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoon s cocoa powder.
Gradually stir in the boiling water.
Pour the mixture evenly over batter in casserole.
Bake in a 350 degree oven about 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center of cake comes out clean.