December 31, 2011

tangerine-pistachio sticky buns

this was a tasty new year's eve treat. i got the recipe from everyday food magazine and made a few adjustments after having tried the recipe once, using my own favorite sweet roll recipe (the magazine calls for using frozen pizza dough). this is such a refreshing mix of flavors in a sweet roll that isn't sickly sweet. yum!

ingredients

make the dough from this cinnamon roll recipe, let rise 1 hour
3/4 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C shelled unsalted pistachios
7 T butter, melted
3/4 C tangerine marmalade or store-bought orange marmalade
1/4 t salt

directions

1. in a food processor, pulse brown sugar and pistachios until coarsely ground. sprinkle 5 T sugar mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish and drizzle with 4 T butter.

2. on a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch dough into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. spread with marmalade, leaving a 1-inch border. top with remaining sugar mixture, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with remaining butter. starting at a long edge, roll up dough like a jelly roll. cut into pieces that are roughly 1 1/2 inches wide. place rolls in the 9 x 13, loosely cover and let rise 1 hour.

3. preheat oven to 350. place 9 x 13 on a rimmed cookie sheet (if it boils over, it gets ugly) and bake until buns are golden brown, about 35 minutes. immediately run a knife around edge of the pan and invert buns onto a serving platter. serve warm.

tangerine marmalade

i got this recipe from everyday food magazine. it was the perfect way to use up some cuties that are inevitably lying around during the holidays. i halved the recipe in the magazine so that's what i put here. it was fun to try marmalade--it's something i've always wanted to try. it does require a bit of time, so make it while you're already in the kitchen for something else.

ingredients

about 9 tangerines (i used cuties), unpeeled, washed, ends trimmed and cut into thin slices
2 C sugar

directions

in a large pot, bring cuties and 3 C water to a boil over high. reduce heat to medium and cook at a rapid simmer until cutie peels are tender, about 20 minutes. add sugar and increase heat to medium-high and stir until sugar dissolves. return to a boil and cook, stirring often, until mixture is thick and darkens slightly, about 45 min. it should be thick like jam. transfer marmalade to airtight container and let cool completely before using or refrigerating. can refrigerate up to one month and freeze up to six months.

December 16, 2011

sausage potato stew

for a st. patrick's day party a couple years ago, my friends brought this super yummy soup. i posted their original recipe first. since the recipe calls for peppers (and i'm allergic) and because i had a bunch of stuff in my fridge to use up, i created a variation that i posted second...and it just happens to be vegetarian.

logan's sausage potato stew

8-10 med red potatoes
2 large onions
1 large green pepper
1 large red pepper (optional)
2 lbs. smoked Polish sausage
1/3 c olive oil
1 Tbsp dried basil
½ Tbsp pepper
1 c cream
3 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water

Clean potatoes and cut into bite size pieces. Boil potatoes in water until almost done. Drain off water. Add onions, peppers, sausage, oil, basil, and pepper. Cook in large pan until vegetables are tender but still slightly crisp. Combine cream, cornstarch, and water and pour over potatoes and vegetables. Cook until thickened. It is very thick; add more cream or milk to make more of a soup if desired.

jamie's sausage potato stew

2 medium red potatoes, diced
2 large links of vegetarian smoked apple-potato with rubbed sage sausage(available at safeway), sliced and browned
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 large carrot, sliced
4 C milk
1 C chicken stock
1 T basil
1/2 t pepper
1 T cornstarch mixed with water for a thick paste
1 C coarsely chopped cabbage

boil potatoes until almost done. drain off water and add oil, green onions and carrots. saute for a few minutes. add milk and stock and bring to a boil, stirring often. reduce heat to simmer, add basil and pepper and cook until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes. slowly stir in cornstarch mixture until the soup barely thickens. add the cabbage, turn off heat but keep on the burner, put the lid on to let the cabbage steam, about 5 minutes. voila!

December 09, 2011

jam thumbprint cookies

these cookies are Christmas to me.

ingredients

2/3 C butter
1/3 C sugar
2 eggs, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C flour
your favorite jam--i like raspberry or pineapple apricot
finely chopped nuts or flaked coconut

directions

cream together butter and sugar til fluffy. add egg yolks, vanilla and salt and beat well. gradually add flour, mixing well. shape into 3/4 in balls; dip in eggs whites, then roll in nuts or coconut. place 1 in apart on a cookie sheet. press center of each cookie down with thumb. fill with jam. bake @ 350 for 15 minutes. makes 3 dozen.

November 21, 2011

turkey in the crockpot

we always have thanksgiving with family, so i haven't had the opportunity to cook the traditional meal for quite a few years. so last night, since we were having guests for dinner, i decided to cook a mini thanksgiving meal to get my thanksgiving cooking fix.

i was going to be gone half the day, so i thought i'd try turkey in the crockpot and it was AMAZING! breast meat that was actually moist and juicy! yum! here's what i did:

ingredients

3lb turkey breast
1/2 C chicken broth
olive oil
butter
harry and david turkey rub

directions

rinse the meat and pat dry. pour the broth into the crockpot. brush turkey with olive oil until just coated on top. smooth a thin layer of butter over that. cover butter with the turkey rub. cook on low for 4 1/2 hrs. voila! it was falling apart as i cut it....

November 18, 2011

piroshki/burkrauts

this is a dish that's been in the family for years, but i've always thought something could be done to improve it slightly. i found a much better dough recipe and an idea to add dill to the meat from allrecipes.com and it turned out delicious. my kids love them, too.

filling

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 C shredded cabbage
pepper and dried dill to taste

dough

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
directions

make dough and let it rise til double. meanwhile, saute onion until slightly softened. add beef and pepper and cook til done. sprinkle with desired amount of dill and pour the cabbage in. cover and turn off heat, but leave on the burner. the cabbage should steam in 5-7 minutes.

break dough off into pieces a little bit larger than a golf ball. roll out thin. put a few generous spoonfuls of filling on one side and fold over to make a pocket. press ends together. place on a greased cookie sheet and lightly grease the tops. bake @ 425 for 10 minutes. super yummy to dip them in your choice of mustard. they freeze well.

September 30, 2011

what are your favorites?

i am thinking of adding a list on the sidebar of user favorites for easy access. which recipes would you like me to include?

September 29, 2011

clam chowder

i fused a recipe that i got from my mother-in-law with a recipe i found at myrecipes.com. i did a little bit of research before i made it and i found a lot of recipes that called for adding a splash of red wine vinegar at the end. i just ran out so i didn't add any. while this soup was great as-is (my husband told me to write it down exactly and not change a thing), i thought it would be interesting to try the red wine vinegar next time. i'll make a note to let you know what i conclude.

this made just the perfect amount for my family of five--there weren't any leftovers.

ingredients

4 green onions, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 and 1/2 baked potato, cubed
2 slices bacon, crumbled
2 6oz cans clams, juices reserved
4 C milk
1 stick butter
3/4 C flour
2 cubes chicken granules or 2 t chicken base
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 t salt
1 generous pinch thyme
1 bay leaf

directions

melt butter over medium high heat. add onions, celery, carrots, white pepper and thyme and saute 2-3 minutes. add clam juice and heat to a simmer. add bay leaf and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. increase the heat back to medium-high and slowly stir in flour. once a thick paste has formed, slowly whisk in cold milk, stirring constantly. next, add the chicken base, potatoes, bacon and salt. stir and heat until thickened and not quite bubbly. add clams and take off heat. cover and let stand 5 minutes to let the clams warm. serve with freshly ground pepper.

September 19, 2011

manicotti

this is one of my very favorite things to eat. but it has to be my way or it doesn't quite cut it. i realize that sounds snooty, but it's taken me a few long years to tweak it and now it's just the way i like it. here's the way i do it:

ingredients and instructions

14 manicotti shells, cooked per package instructions, drained and rinsed

sauce

2 full bulbs roasted garlic--instructions for roasting here.
1 1/2 T olive oil
2 1/2 lbs canned whole tomatoes, chunked (i like mine bigger than diced)
1 T oregano
1 T basil
1 t thyme
pinch rosemary
2 heaping tablespoons sugar

bring first three ingredients to a boil. lower to a simmer, add remaining ingredients and let simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

filling

2 lbs ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 C (or more) fresh parsley or spinach
salt and pepper to taste
1 C grated romano or parmesan
1 - 1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella

whip together the ricotta and eggs until well blended. stir in remaining ingredients

assembly

fill a large baking dish with 1/2 C sauce; fill manicotti shells with cheese filling (i use a cake decorating tool and it works great); place shells into the baking dish, drizzle with desired amount of sauce (leave some to add after it has baked), sprinkle with 1/4 C each of romano/parmesan and mozzarella and bake @ 425 for 20 min or until the cheese starts to brown.

September 14, 2011

little tricks

as i was cooking today i realized that much of what distinguishes good food from even better food is just a knowledge of a few little tricks. i made a list of some of the tricks i've learned so far (most of which i'm sure you've already heard, but i'm still learning). i would love to hear some of yours if you have a moment.

*
add an almost undetectable amount of horseradish to mashed potatoes
*sprinkle vegetables with sea salt while sauteing or roasting
*blanch new potatoes (or other root vegetables) for five minutes before roasting--they will retain moisture that way
*splash green beans with lemon juice or vinegar after steaming
*when baking, having eggs at room temperature really makes a big difference
*mayonnaise is the secret to a moist cake or sweet bread
*always handle dough as little as humanly possible

alton brown's beef stew

it's not every day that my cooking gets called "exquisite" so i thought i'd make sure this one got recorded right away. i faithfully followed alton brown's every direction. i wasn't sure what english-cut short ribs were, so i just consulted with the butcher and we both decided on a short rib option that ended up working really well. my meat ended up producing more fat than liquid, so i had to add a little bit of stock to the potatoes and onions near the end so they wouldn't boil dry.

ingredients

directions

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and dried herbs. Set aside.

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt. Place a large griddle over medium-high heat and once a drop of water bounces off, sear the meat until browned on all sides. Once browned, remove the meat to the bowl with the paste and toss to coat. Transfer to a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and seal tightly. Place the package into a metal pan and put into a cold oven on the middle rack. Set the oven to 250 degrees F and cook for 4 hours.

Remove the meat from the oven and carefully poke a hole in the pack while holding it over a heatproof container. Drain the liquid into the container and place it into the refrigerator to cool enough so that the fat separates from the rest of the liquid, approximately 1 hour. After 1 hour, transfer the liquid to the freezer and keep there until the fat cap has solidified, approximately 1 hour. Allow the ribs to sit at room temperature while the liquid is cooling or if serving the next day, place in the refrigerator until ready to finish.

Retrieve the liquid from the refrigerator and remove the fat cap that has formed on top. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the fat and reserve the rest for another time. Place the fat into a large saucier and place over medium heat. Once the fat has melted add the onion along with the remaining teaspoon of salt and stir to separate the onions into rings. Allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes along with a pinch of black pepper and stir to combine. Next, add the liquid reserved from the meat and stir. Cover tightly and decrease the heat to low so that no heat is escaping the lid. Cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Meanwhile, cut the meat away from the bone, removing the connective tissue and discarding. Once the potatoes are tender, uncover and set the meat atop the vegetables. Cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.

September 01, 2011

soy-marinated flank steak

this recipe gives instructions for producing a flawlessly medium-rare steak. plus the marinade is delicious and versatile. it's from everyday food magazine.

marinade is proportioned to a 2-pound steak.

ingredients

1 C soy sauce
1/4 C packed brown sugar
3 T cider vinegar
1 T worcestershire sauce
2 t dijon mustard
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t pepper

directions

marinate at least two hours, turning once. heat grill to high. lightly oil hot grates. grill steak, covered, for 6 minutes. turn, brush with remaining marinade and grill 6 minutes more, uncovered.

eggplant, tomato and fresh mozzarella salad

what a perfect end of summer treat! it's gotta be fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. got it from everyday food magazine. also, the roasted eggplant is delicious on its own--i recently discovered that sea salt is the answer to almost all vegetables. i roasted the whole thing and ate the other half for snack.

ingredients

1/2 medium eggplant, thinly sliced
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes (any variety), sliced
1/4 C loosely packed fresh basil
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

directions

brush a baking sheet with 1 T olive oil and arrange eggplant thereon. using the remaining olive oil on the brush, brush tops of the eggplant. sprinkle with sea salt (or another coarse salt) and pepper. roast @ 400 for 10-20 minutes, depending on how thick you sliced it. allow to cool to room temperature.

on a serving platter arrange the eggplant, mozzarella and tomatoes. top with basil. drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

big steak salad

(excuse the messed up formatting. argh!)

this was the perfect salad to use up the leftover steak. i found it at thepioneerwoman.com. the mix of flavors created by the dressing, bleu cheese and candied pecans is absolutely scrumptious.

the recipe from the site calls for topping the salad with homemade onion crisps. while i like the idea of making onion crisps to go on top, i have a really hard time putting something deep-fried on top of a salad. i may look into buying them next time...although the salad was perfectly delicious without them.

*this recipe reflects the proportions i made that were perfect for the size of my family.

ingredients

.5 lbs steak (flank, sirloin), grilled (medium-rare to medium)**
2 heads romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 C grape tomatoes, halved
3-4 heaping tablespoons bleu cheese, crumbed
3-4 heaping tablespoons candied pecans, chopped***
a couple handfuls of onion crisps, if using

dressing
  • 2/3 C canola oil
  • 1 1/2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 T worcestershire sauce
  • 1 heaping T soy sauce
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 T minced ginger root
  • 1/2 t salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

**it can be marinated using the soy-marinated flank steak recipe or by doubling the dressing and using half for the marinade
***chop a handful of pecans and place in a pan over high heat. throw in a tablespoon of brown sugar. stir constantly until sugar crystalizes and adheres to the pecans. remove from the heat and separate with a spoon to let cool.

bacon cheddar potato soup

we recently got a blendtec and this soup is in their cookbook. i added the corn because i saw some corn on the cob in the store and thought it would be a tasty addition. this was so quick to prepare because i had already set some baked potatoes aside from a dinner we had earlier in the week. plus the blender even warms it up for me, leaving the mess in only one place. yippee for blendtec! (i'm sure you can make it over the stove if you're not yet converted.)


ingredients

4 C hot milk
2 medium baked potatoes, cut in half
1 C shredded cheese (i used half cheddar, half jarlsberg)
1/2 C steamed onion
1/2 t dill (dried)
1/2 t rosemary (dried)
1 t salt

directions

blend. then add 6 slices chopped bacon, two more cubed baked potatoes and 1/2 C corn cut from the cob.

monkey bread

recently some friends of mine were talking about this and i remembered having had it about ten years ago at my brother's house. so i called up my brother and he gave me the recipe. it sounds like there are a few variations on this evil deliciousness, so please let me know what you do differently!

ingredients

20-24 rhodes' rolls
1 stick butter
1 C brown sugar
a few generous shakes from a butterscotch pudding packet (not instant)

directions

arrange frozen rolls in a bundt cake pan. melt the butter and mix in the brown sugar. pour over the rolls and then add the dried butterscotch pudding. let the rolls rise. (you can speed up the process by preheating the oven to 200, then turning it off and placing the rolls inside.) once the rolls have risen to your liking, bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until oozing and golden brown. yum!

August 23, 2011

mediterrean chicken salad

this is a refreshing summer appetizer. it was delicious scooped up with cracked pepper and olive oil triscuits. i got it years ago from a woman at my church.

ingredients

4 T olive oil
2T plus 2t tarragon vinegar
1 T chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 T dijon mustard
1 C diced cooked chicken
1/2 C cooked orzo
1 C halved cherry tomatoes
1 six oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 C coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/3 C dried currants or golden raisins
1 1/2 T capers

directions

combine oil, vinegar, tarragon, lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl; whisk to blend and then season to taste with salt and pepper. place chicken in a medium bowl. mix in 1/4 C dressing. rinse orzo under cold water to cool and drain well. transfer orzo to a large bowl and stir in remaining dressing. toss to coat. add chicken mixture and remaining ingredients. season salad to taste with salt and pepper.

caramel popcorn

this was one of my favorite treats growing up. last night was the first time i was able to get the proportions just right, so i thought i'd get it down before i forget.
ingredients

1/2 C unpopped popcorn, divided
1/4 C oil
1/4 C butter
1 C brown sugar
1/2 light corn syrup
2/3 C sweetened condensed milk
1/2 t vanilla
pop popcorn in two batches. shake to remove unpopped kernels. pour a little over half into an oversized bowl. in a saucepan, combine butter, sugar and syrup. stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. stir in milk and stir constantly until mixture comes to soft ball stage. stir in vanilla. pour over popcorn and mix, stirring in remaining popcorn until it's covered to your liking.

August 15, 2011

strada

years ago i attended a baby shower and had this refreshing alternative to the typical breakfast casserole. i dug it out the other day to fulfill my assignment to bring something savory to a baby shower. i wish i had dug it out sooner--i had forgotten how tasty it was!

ingredients

1/2 loaf sourdough bread
3 T melted butter
4oz swiss cheese, grated (i use jarlsberg or emmentaler sometimes)
4oz cheddar cheese, grated
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 eggs
1 1/3 C milk
1/3 C white wine**
2 green onions, chopped
2 T dijon mustard
1/4 t pepper

topping:

3/4 C sour cream (i used non-fat)
1/2 C parmesan cheese, freshly grated

crumble or cut bread. line bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with bread and drizzle with melted butter. sprinkle 2 cheeses and bacon over bread. mix eggs, milk, wine, onion, mustard and pepper until foamy. pour over bread. cover with foil and refrigerate over night. let stand one hour before cooking. bake (covered) @ 350 for 35 minutes. spread with sour cream and sprinkle with parmesan cheese on top. bake 10 more minutes uncovered.


**if you'd rather not use alcohol, i used 1 T white wine vinegar and then filled the rest of the 1/3 C with water. my friend, katherine, also alerted me to a non-alcoholic beverage option called "fre" which she has had success with in other recipes. it's found next to wine in most grocery stores.

danish puff

my cute friend debbie has done it again. she brought this delicious pastry to a baby shower. yum, yum!

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons water

Place flour in bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup butter with pastry blender until it looks like small peas. Pour water over flour and mix with a fork. Form dough into 2 balls. Pat each half into 12 x 3 inch strip on a large ungreased cookie sheet. Set aside while preparing the next step.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs

Heat butter and water to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Stir in flour and almond extract. Stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat.
Beat in eggs, all at once; continue beating until smooth.Divide in half; spread each half evenly over strips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until topping is crisp and golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Frost with Glaze: 1 to 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar; 2 T. butter softened; 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 to 2 T warm water. Mix until smooth and spreadable. Top with chopped walnuts or sliced almonds.

July 18, 2011

zucchini bread

my aunt gave us a couple of her huge zucchinis from her garden so i thought i'd try some zucchini bread for the first time. i found a healthy option that touts itself as the "best zucchini bread ever." i don't really know because i think i've had zucchini bread one other time in my life, but this was definitely good enough to eat. although, i doubt one can ever go wrong with throwing extra dark chocolate in anything (i used 72% cacao).

i found it here.

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (or peanut)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
  • 1 cup organic Turbinado sugar (or brown sugar, firmly packed)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chunked
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with papers OR oil a mini loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
  4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups (or mini loaf pan) and pour the rest into the 9×4 loaf pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Cool loaf completely before cutting.

July 15, 2011

hot cider syrup

i tried a pumpkin pancake recipe that i didn't love, but i did love the syrup. i'll keep looking for a good pumpkin pancake recipe but until then i'll enjoy this syrup on all my other pancakes. i found it at allrecipes but reduced the brown sugar and corn syrup slightly--this reflects my changes.

  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until slightly thickened.

July 10, 2011

german chocolate cake

it was my uncle's birthday so i thought i'd try my hand at his favorite kind of cake. after doing a lot of research, i settled on this recipe from allrecipes.com and made a couple of changes per the suggestions given in the comments. one and a half the frosting recipe. also, i used a rectangular cake pan so i reduced the heat to 325 and baked it for 40ish minutes.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour--or all-purpose minus 3T and sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat water and 4 ounces chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated.
  3. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
  4. Pour into 3 - 9 inch pans Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto wire rack.
  5. To make the Filling: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened--just before you can tell it's about to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.


my uncle also LOVES motorcycles (although he loves hondas and not harleys), so inspired by the above picture, i tried my hand at fondant for the first time. after consulting with a couple friends and watching a bunch of youtube videos, here's what the final product ended up looking like:

considering my lack of experience and general artistry, i was pretty pleased with the result. happy birthday, uncle kevin!

June 18, 2011

caramelized onion, tomato and pepita flat bread

because of my recent obsession with caramelized onions, this recipe caught my eye. the original recipe from eatingwell.com calls for making a white bean paste to spread on the flat bread before adding the toppings. after trying the white bean paste, i think i'd prefer to just spread my favorite hummus on it instead. also, next time i make it, i'll put some steamed spinach on top, too.

p.s. the pepitas and the smoked gouda make this recipe.


ingredients
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 20 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, (see Note), thawed if frozen
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 hummus recipe
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely shredded smoked Gouda, or Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas

directions


  1. Place oven rack in the lowest position; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large noninsulated baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine oil, onion and salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, 5 to 8 minutes more. Stir oregano and pepper into the onion.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to the size of the baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet and stick it with a fork in a few places. Bake until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Spread the hummus over the flat bread. Top with the onion, tomatoes, cheese, pepitas, and spinach, if using. Bake on the bottom rack until the crust is crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, 11 to 13 minutes. Slice and serve.

June 10, 2011

skillet gnocchi with chard and white beans

this was so fabulous! ready under 30 minutes, healthy and tasty--my idea of a perfect friday night dinner! from eatingwell.com.

p.s. i used mini gnocchi and i don't think i'll ever go back to the regular-sized if i can help it. they were perfect. also, i loved the pan-fried texture. i'll definitely opt to prepare gnocchi in this way rather than boil them like i have in the past.

ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi, (see Tip)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups chopped chard leaves, (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
directions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.

June 09, 2011

salade nicoise

as often as i can i attend a cooking club that meets once a month. last month's theme was ethnic foods. a friend brought this delicious french salad. i was in heaven...or at least back in paris! there were several yummy recipes from that night. i always like to try them first to make sure i can replicate them before i post so stay tuned...

vinaigrette ingredients
1/2 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium shallot, minced

1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

salad ingredients

2 grilled or otherwise cooked tuna steaks* (8 oz each) or 2-3 cans of tuna

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered

10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces

3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths

1 small red onion, sliced very thin

8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise

1/4 cup ni├žoise olives

2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional)

directions

Marinate tuna steaks in a little olive oil for an hour. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, or place on a hot grill. Cook the steaks 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.


1.
Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.

3. While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter (I used two serving platters, shown in the photos). Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices or drain cans, coat with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

4. Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

5. Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.


banana pudding pops

i always love it when i find recipes that use ingredients i regularly have on hand and that are fast, easy and tasty. this was one of those. my kids were disappointed there weren't more leftovers (next time i'll double the batch). i got the recipe from eatingwell.com.

ingredients
  • 1/3-1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced bananas, (about 2 large)
directions
  1. Whisk sugar to taste, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan. Add milk and whisk until combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
  2. Put about half the pudding in a food processor or blender and add bananas. Process until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Stir the mixture back into the remaining pudding.
  3. Divide the mixture among freezer-pop molds. Insert the sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Dip the molds briefly in hot water before unmolding.

May 23, 2011

million dollar muffins revised

the original version of these muffins are great. i just experimented with them to see if i could create a just-as-tasty but slightly more healthy and lower calorie version. i was pleased with the result.

ingredients

1 C all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 T flaxseed meal, plus 3 T water
1/4 C oil
1/4 C applesauce
1/2 C undrained crushed pineapple
1/2 C raisins
2 C shredded carrots

directions

combine dry ingredients in one bowl; egg, flaxseed mixture, oil and applesauce in another bowl; and remaining ingredients in another bowl. add the wet to the dry then the rest. bake @ 350 for 20 minutes. and it's infinitely better if you use muffin cups.

May 21, 2011

Cafe Rio Salad

Cafe Rio Pork
Place 3 lbs pork roast in crock pot with 1 1/2 cans of Coca-Cola Classic mixed with 1 cup of brown sugar. Cook on high. Heat overnight or for about 8 hours until tender. Shred with two forks. Season with 1 tsp. garlic salt, 1/4 c. barbecue sauce, and 3/4 cup ketchup.
-----------------
Creamy Cilantro Salad Dressing

3 fresh tomatillos cut into quarters
1 pkg Ranch Buttermilk dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise*
1/3-1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender and refrigerate at least one hour. (*For a thicker dressing, reduce mayonnaise to 1/3 cup and add 1/2 cup sour cream to the mixture.)

Note: dressing is best if used in the first few days after making it.
-------------------
Other ingredients (in order of how to assemble it.) You can leave out anything you may not like (or have on hand.)

8 flour tortillas
2 cups cooked Spanish rice
2 cups cooked black or pinto beans
Shredded pork
2 heads Romaine lettuce (or you can buy 2 bags of Sweet Baby Greens)
Pico de Gallo
Guacamole
Lime Wedges
Corn tortilla strips
Creamy tomatillo dressing

Chicken Chinese Salad

Chicken Chinese Salad

2 chicken breasts - cooked and diced
1/2 head of cabbage - chopped
1 pkg. Top Ramon

Dressing:
1/4 c. salad oil
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 seasoning packet from Top Ramon

Crush Top Ramon noodles and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 until lightly browned (approx. 10 min.) Cool.

Combine chopped cabbage, cooked, diced chicken, and cooled noodles.

Mix thoroughly or shake together ingredients for dressing. Pour over cabbage, chicken, noodle mixture and toss.

Side notes:
*Easy to double if needed.
*My husband's favorite thing is the crunchy Ramon noodles. I do an extra package of the noodles and put them in a bowl so we can add them to our liking at the dinner table.
*Other bonus: my kids LOVE it!

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Chocolate Angel Food Cake
(This is a favorite and a must have at every birthday party on my side of the family. It is super easy to make, and if you like chocolate, you will LOVE this.)

Sift 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder into a packaged Angel Food cake mix, and prepare, bake, and cool as usual.

Top with Chocolate Whipped Cream, made the following way...
Stir thoroughly into 1 pint whipping cream:
3 Tbsp. sifted cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar

The trick with getting good, thick whipped cream once you have added those ingredients is to put the mixture in the freezer until it crystallizes around the edges and then whip it.

May 20, 2011

shawn's sugar cookies

so pleased to get the secret to the locally famous sugar cookie. if you like the traditional sugar cookie (not the overly large and overly fluffy grandma's pink cookies) then you will like these.

cream:

1 C butter
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t almond flavoring

measure and fold in:

3 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

mix together and roll out the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper. put on a cookie sheet and chill for 30 minutes. take out, peel the top layer of waxed paper off, cut out cookies and place on ungreased cookies sheet. the secret to a great sugar cookie is to not touch the dough and don't add any more flour. hence, the waxed paper roll out! bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes.

if you want it chewy--8-9 minutes. a little more crispy--10-12 minutes. the tops will not get brown.

whip up butter cream frosting with a little almond flavoring in it.

edamame, corn and tomato salad

recently i attended an event and this was served. i don't want to give you high expectations so that you're disappointed, but it was probably the most refreshing and tasty dish i have had all year. i loved it. everyone around me was going back for seconds...and, in some cases, thirds.

3/4 C frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 C frozen shelled edamame
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large avocado, cubed
2 T fresh lime juice
1 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 T canola oil
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

1) bring a saucepan of water to a boil and have ready a bowl of ice water. add the corn and edamame and cook for 3 minutes. drain and transfer to the bowl of ice water. let sit for a few minutes. drain and add tomatoes and avocado.

2) in a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, salt and pepper. slowly whisk in oil. pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. garnish with cilantro.