Dec 25, 2010

Frohe Weihnachten--Stollen

I tried. I really, really tried. I had these wonderful dried figs and dates...soaked in espresso. Organic cocoa powder and handmade marzipan. I followed the directions to the best of my abilities. In the end however, I came up against my nemesis, who unfortunately is almost guaranteed to take me down every single time: Yeast, I loathe you. I'm not sure what happened but my dough didn't raise at all and I ended up scraping the entire thing and then I was in a super funk about it and not sure if I could afford the extra ingredients.  However anyone that knows me knows that I love a challenge and I had to try it again.. different recipe.

This months daring bakers challenge was to make stollen which according to our friend Wiki has been around since before 1474. I did make stollen it just wasn't quite the recipe from the bakers challenge. Was this challenge a success? I will give it a 50/50. The stollen is AMAZING. First the smell hits you and then the taste... its outta this world. I made this bad boy last night and we ate a piece about three in the morning and then really cut into it today. I am definitely adding this one to my repertoire and my sweets for holiday list! Tonight we had it with some Marzipan coffee and it was delectable!

(delightfully modified from King Arthur website)
2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
1 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim milk type
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried fruit blend; or 1/2 cup golden raisins + 1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruits, chopped to 1/2" pieces if necessary
Reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
Cut the cold butter into small chunks, then blend it into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese, egg, vanilla, and flavors.
Toss the fruit and almonds with the flour mixture until evenly distributed. Then combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it two or three times, until it holds together. Divide it in half.
Roll each piece of dough into an 8" x 7" oval about 1/2" thick.
Fold each piece of dough roughly in half, leaving the edge of the top half about 1/2" short of the edge of the bottom half. Should you fold the long way, or the short way? The long way will give you a longer, narrower stollen, with shorter slices; folding the short way will give you a wider, fatter stollen, with longer slices.
Use the edge of your hand to press the dough to seal about 1" in back of the open edge; this will make the traditional stollen shape. It's also the familiar Parker House roll shape, if you've ever made them. *
Place the shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the stollen till they're very lightly browned around the edges, about 40 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
Remove the stollen from the oven, and transfer to a rack. Brush them each with 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter and Rum.  Sprinkle heavily with confectioners' sugar.
Allow the stollen to cool, then brush with butter again, and sprinkle with sugar again. Wrap in plastic wrap till ready to serve.

I severely changed the protocol here :
roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

put a 1/4 inch "snake" of marzipan in the center.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape.

Blog Checking Lines:
The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration

Merry Christmas!

Hope all of you have had an amazing Christmas with friends and family! I am utterly grateful for all of your support on my blogging endeavor!

Dec 19, 2010

Obligatory Cookie Post

COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKIES! This is my obligatory cookie post for my blog. I wish I could say that this year was the year that I discovered some amazingly delightful cookie that took my breathe away and forever changed my world, but it didn't happen. All of these recipes were good. A few of the very good. Out of all the cookies I will definitely be making the sugar cookies, the magic cookies, the whoopie pies and the macaroons again. Oooh magic bars and graham cracker bark they are my favorite... I make the graham cracker bark with semisweet chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candies on top...NOM! I am just going to link to the recipes I used for each cookie.  I'm not claiming any of them or anything I just used them!

My cookie decorating helpers! The elves were covered in powdered sugar, frosting and other sticky things by the end of the night!

One of the cookie plates that I made for the SA to take to his bosses.  Similar plates went with me to work and we sent some of them to SA's parents as well. Not to even mention the plate that is sitting on our kitchen counter!

Garam Masala Gingerbread

Cinnamon Spiced Hot Chocolate Cookies

Brown Sugar Shortbread

sugar cookies

dulce de leche


Chocolate Krinkles

Magic Cookie Bars

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Chip Cookies (just use the recipe on the back of the bag! holla!)

Graham Cracker Bark

Dec 13, 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Poached Eggs/ Huevos Hollandaise

I was sooo not looking forward to poaching an egg.  Gross. Runny Yolks. No thank you! However, the night I made this I was craving huevos rancheros but thought I would just suck it up and make the the poach eggs (and get it over with) but it was amazzzzzzzzzing!
This recipe kind of evolved as I was making it and ended up quite over the top.  BUT OVER THE TOP TASTY!
Its kinda hard to tell in the picture but on the bottom there are my own version of borracho beans topped with a garlic toasted muffin, then a sausage patty, poached egg(I promise its there!), crumbled cotija cheese, green salsa and homemade hollandaise. (and now I am going to go work out, LOL!) It was sooooo stinking good that even my husband who detests runny eggs finished his bowl and my leftovers. The yolk was so good when it mixed in with the beans and the cheese.
HECK YES to HUEVOS HOLLANDAISE! and I've been converted!
Borracho Beans(or drunken beans)
1 pound dried pinto beans, washed

2 quarts chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1  can or bottle beer
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 white onion, diced
3 pieces of cooked bacon
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne

Soak beans over night in a large pot of water, or just do what I did and follow the directions on the back of the bag for a quick soak!

Drain beans, and refill the pot with chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans with 2 inches of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
In another skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat untill done, and remove from pan being careful to save your bacon grease, add onions and cook untill translucent.
Stir beer, tomatoes, onion, bacon, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, cumin and cilantro into the beans. Continue to cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until beans are tender.
With a potato masher, crush the beans slightly to thicken the bean liquid. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.

modified slightly from Alton Brown's Recipe
3 egg yolks

1 teapsoon water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pour 1-inch of water into a large saucepan; over medium heat, bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low.

Place egg yolks and 1 teaspoon water in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until mixture lightens in color, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and whisk for another 30 seconds.
Place the mixture over the simmering water and whisk constantly for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the bowl from over the pan and gradually add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisk until all of the butter is incorporated. If your butter isn't melting, put the bowl back over the simmering water so that it will melt. Add the salt and cayenne pepper.
I was talking to one of my friends about this recipe and he recommended after you whisk the egg yolks, water and sugar  simply pouring the mixture in a blender and adding softened butter.  I'm not sure if that would work but I think its worth a try!

Blog-checking lines: Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Dec 12, 2010

A day for sweets!

Cocoa Nibs. Exotic. Ddifferent. Sexy.
They were calling my name last night at the grocery and I couldn't figure out why, but I bought them, brought them home and then enjoyed the fact that I had them---all disregarding the fact that I had no idea what I was going to make with them, have never cooked with them and was generally clueless on how to proceed. 
Today I had what I hope will become an annual cookie making party and after making a couple of dozen cookies, everyone was hungry for something a bit more substantial. Enter the lamb chops, Enter the cocoa Nibs.
OOoh yeah! This dish ended up being a great experiment.  I served it beside risotto with artichokes and tarragon a green salad and a great bottle of wine and while it wasn't sexy considering we had dinner guests it was delicious and very very very different from our normal fair!

Lamb Chops with Cocoa Nib Sauce

2 medium shallots, minced
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 6-ounce lamb chops
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon mustard
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1/4 cup Heavy cream
Pinch of sugar
Shredded basil leaves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a baking dish with cooking oil and place it on the middle oven rack.
Sprinkle the cocoa powder on a plate; use it to lightly coat both sides of the lamb chops. Lightly season both sides with salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chops and cook for 2 minutes, then turn them over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Both sides should have a slightly seared, chocolate-brown crust. Transfer the meat to the baking dish in the oven and cook for 25 minutes or until it reaches the internal temperature of 150.
With the skillet still over medium heat, add the minced shallots and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened. Add the wine and broth; increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid has been reduced by at least a third then stir in the mustard and cocoa nibs. Salt to taste. Cook on low for three minutes.
Turn off the oven and transfer the meat to the counter to rest.  Pour sauce over meat and top with shredded basil.

Dec 10, 2010

No... I haven't...

stopped blogging or disappeared... I am just in retail managment and you wouldn't want a recipe for most of the stuff we have been eatting on the fly! Luckily this weekend I have Sunday off and Holiday cookie making is on like donkey kong! New posts next week!

Nov 30, 2010

Beef, Shiitake and Snow Pea Stirfry

There is only one dish SA asks for other than cheeseburger meatloaf and that is stir fry.  I normally suck at making stir fry. Seriously. I know what you are thinking. How can you screw up a stir fry? It's a relatively simple dish, a simple idea and a simple preparation.  However I absolutely hate my stir fry.  I think it always melds into too many flavors and I don't like the way the sauce tastes. This however is a recipe I modified from a Bon Appetit recipe and it ROCKS my SOCKS! The sauce... oh let me talk about the sauce for a moment.  THE SAUCE was amazing velvety and spicy sweet and savory, it embodies everything I never knew I always wanted  a stir fry to be.  The shiitake were meaty and woody, the snow peas crisp and green and the meat was delicious.  I'm sold. I LOVE MY STIR FRY!

1 1-pound top sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced
8 ounces snow peas
1 med size shallot thinly sliced.
5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger, scallions and mushrooms; stir-fry until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Add beef to skillet; stir-fry until beef browns but is still pink in center, about 2 minutes. Add snow peas stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in hoisin, chili-garlic sauce, and five-spice powder; saute until peas are crisp-tender, about a minute.

Nov 21, 2010

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

When you are looking for something wonderful to do with all of your leftover turkey then I would highly recommend this soup.  The first time I made it I made it with chicken, and after our Thanksgiving feast I decided to use the rest of the leftover turkey and make this!

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cups left over turkey shredded
1  cup wild rice
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup celery chopped
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of thyme
1/4 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy cream
olive oil
     In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until onions are translucent about 5 minutes,stirring frequently. Add thyme, parsley, pepper and salt. combine broth, water and turkey. Bring just to boiling, then stir in rice, cover and turn down to medium heat let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
     In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture by tablespoons, to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.
Stir cream mixture into broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.

Nov 18, 2010

Sausage, Apple, Onion and Cranberry Dressing

This stuffing is SO good.  I always thought that my Grandma's stuffing was the penultimate. Thought is the operative word.  It has everything : sweetness from the apples and cranberries, a great texture from the different kinds of bread and a wonderful savoriness from the sausage and onions. I believe that using the fresh herbs also gave it a great taste...

Sausage, Apple Onion and Cranberry Dressing
1 pound mild bulk breakfast sausage
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped onions
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups bread cubes
1 cup cornbread crumbles
1 cup stale french bread cubes
1 cup black bread cubes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Saute the sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Transfer the sausage and drippings to a large bowl. Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, apples, celery and poultry seasoning to the skillet and saute until the leeks are soft, about 8 minutes. Mix in the drained cranberries, sage and rosemary. Add the mixture to the sausage, then mix in the breads and parsley. Next add the heavy cream and the chicken stock a little at a time until the stuffing is very moist. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish.
Bake in a 14-inch oval or 9 by 13-inch rectangular casserole dish and place, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center piping hot.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry juice should not come in a can.  It shouldn't have marshmallows and it should not be cut with a knife.  Just my thoughts.  This recipe is an amalgamation of 4 or five others that I read and liked parts of.  I get my agar-agar at the health food store in the bulk section but I suppose in a pinch you could use gelatin.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce
12 oz fresh cranberries

1 c POM juice
1 1/2 c raw sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp orange peel
1tsp agar-agar
pinch of salt
Place the the cranberries, pom juice and sugar, cinnamon, orange peel and agar-agar and salt in sauce pan. On medium to high heat until sugar has melted and cranberries begin to pop and release their juices. Stir occasionally. Bring the mixture to a boil. once boiling lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thick.
It was fairly thick at this point but I liked it even more once it had a chance to hang out in the fridge over night!

I apologize for the HORRIBLE picture, but it was from my cellphone and I wanted to be able to post all the Thanksgiving recipes before people were finishing up their Thanksgiving plans!

Nov 16, 2010

Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and Marshmallow fondant leaves

Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

1 1/4 cups butter
2 cups chopped pecans
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

    Pre- heat oven to 350. Grease and flour bottoms of three 9 inch layer pans(or two cupcake pans).
Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and brown 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
           Sift flour with baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cream remaining butter in large mixing bowl. Gradually add 2 cups sugar; cream at high speed of mixer until light and fluffy. At medium speed blend in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. At low speed add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla extract, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition. Stir in pecans and pour batter into pans.
     Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched in center. center.       
When cool frost with creamy vanilla butter cream:
To make creamy vanilla butter cream Frosting: Cream 1/4 cup butter or margarine in mixing bowl. Add 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract, salt, 4 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/3 to 1/2 cup cream. Beat until smooth.

Marshmallow Fondant
16 ounces white mini-marshmallows
2 to 5 tablespoons water
2 pounds icing sugar
1/2 cup shortening
Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave or double boiler. To microwave, place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 1/2 minutes total.

Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix and if you have a kitchen aid dump in your greased kitchen aid. Or grease your hands generously then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle. Start kneading like you would bread dough and add the rest of the powdered sugar.  If the fondant gets too dry add a little water. If you aren't using it right away spread a little shortening over it and seal it well.  I like to wrap it in plastic wrap and then a plastic bag as well.

For the leaves I just rolled the fondant out till it was thin, used a cookie cutter and painted the leaves with food color.  I also let them sit out a few hours so that they were a little stiffer.

Nov 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Souffles

Sweet Potato Souffle
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled

1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted
8 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp rum flavoring (also maple would be amazing here)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 a cup gingerbread cookies crumbled into fine crumbles (I used my rolling pin)
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly coat 8 individual ramekins with cooking spray and then a light coating of the gingerbread crumbles. Run your finger 1/4 inch into the ramekins to remove any extra crumbs or oil. This allows the souffles to rise better.
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch squares, cook over medium high about 30 minutes or until tender.
In a stand mixer mixer, beat the sweet potatoes with the brown sugar, butter, eggs, rum, and cinnamon.
Transfer the batter into prepared ramekins.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out cleanly.  Sprinkle with more gingerbread crumbles on top.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Curry

     While I was changing and putting on a bit of makeup for the pre-Thanksgiving potluck dinner we had this past weekend I asked SA to either put the roasted squash into the blender for me or to put it into the food processor.  When I came back down I stopped and stared.  My helpful non kitchen oriented husband was spooning spoonfuls of my squash mixture into a strainer and straining it through. And there was squash on the ceiling. I was gone less than ten minutes!
     Turns out SA had decided to use the blender and instead of adding chicken stock as I had told him to he was using a spatula to push the squash into the blender.  What happens when you do this?!  The blade eats the spatula.  I panicked when I heard this! I couldn't believe he ruined my beautiful roasted vegetables.  I almost lost my cool.  Luckily right as I was about to launch into a full fledged freak out he recovered the piece of plastic and it was the whole piece.  Crisis averted and I could take back over the process!
     I have made several butternut squash based soups before but by far this is my favorite.  The curry adds a depth and a subtle spice to the creaminess of the squash, but my most favorite thing was the condiments we added! I never would of thought to add banana and coconut but they were an unexpected delicious addition!

Recipe Source: Modified from a Barefoot Contessa Recipe

Curry Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon good curry powder*

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash and the apples and onions into two different pans and spread it in a single layer. Roast Squash for 45 minutes or until very tender and roast the apples and onions for 20 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done either blend them with a little of the chicken stock or put them in a food processor.  When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Reheat and serve hot with condiments either on the side or on top of each serving.


Flaked coconut
Roasted cashews, toasted and chopped
Diced banana

* I would recommend starting off with 1/2 a tsp of curry powder and adding it and tasting so you do not put too much in.

Nov 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

     Thanksgiving was yesterday.  We sat around and ate till we were stuffed, there was a game going on (from what I hear, haha), everyone left with leftovers and today my poor dishwasher has already born the brunt of three loads of dishes and it's not even three pm. Wait, what you say? Thanksgiving is still almost two weeks away!
     Correct, however, SA and I have very little family out here, I work retail and I close the day before Thanksgiving and then open pretty early the day after so those things combine to make having a big Thanksgiving dinner/celebration on the actual day pretty damn impossible. So we had it last night!  The great thing about having it last night is I get to share the recipes with you guys.  All of the recipes I tried last night I had never made before so I was having intense anxiety over it, plus we had more people over than we have ever had in our house!
During the following week I will devote a post to each recipe with my recommendations and also the things I changed except for the turkey and pumpkin pie.  Each was delicious, but both have been blogged about to the point of repetition.

Caramelized onion dip
Alton Brown's Brined Roast Turkey: Good EATS!
Sausage Apple, Onion and Cranberry Stuffing
Individual Sweet Potato Souffles
Spinach Gratin
Pomegranate cranberry sauce
Rosemary Rolls
&  pumpkin pie

November Daring Cooks Challenge: Souffles!

My first daring chefs challenge was quite scary:
But they fall! They are difficult! I only have small ramekins!  I'M SCARED! These were all thoughts going thru my head when I saw what the challenge was to be (should I accept it).  In the end I persevered and learned that it was actually quite easy and something I will be adding to my repertoire more often.
     This was a perfect recipe for the SA and I, it made three nice size souffles so there was one for each of us and one that we just so happened to share with two hungry pirate princesses and their parents.

Chocolate Mint Souffles
2 eggs

1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons  Cocoa
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Dash salt
1/3 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon mint extract

Separate eggs. Place whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place yolks in another bowl; set aside.

Coat two 10-oz. ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar; place on a baking sheet and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from the heat; stir in chocolate chips and extract until chips are melted. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the bowl, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.
Beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, fold a fourth of the egg whites into chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in remaining egg whites until combined.
Transfer to prepared ramekins. Bake at 375° for 18-22 minutes or until tops are puffed and centers are almost set.

A spooky pirate princess waiting for a bite of souffle!

Nov 11, 2010

Santa Baby! (Not Food Related...well kinda food related)

I work retail and it is a true story that the Christmas decorations were already up DAYS before Halloween.  This my friends has a name, and it is overkill! Sure I am an old wizened bitter retail worker that has been working it for 15 long years, but there is something about putting decorations up two holidays before the actual holiday that gets to me, regardless of my feelings about Christmas Cheer.
Nevertheless those damn decorations got me thinking of what I would put on my list this year. (And the fact that I need to start planning on what to get for the rest of my friends and family, especially since all most of my peeps live out of state.)
    I have reached a point in my life where the thought of a new Le Creuset pan or new flat wear gets me going rather than makeup, clothes or "things(aka that which must be dusted), even though I have makeup on my list!
So my question to you is...
What's on your list this year, cooking related or non?
And here is a snap shot of mine:

Unfortunately, its on closeout.  But I only need 4 6 place settings!

Le Creuset LOVELIES  Yup I would pretty much keel over to have some Le Creuset.  Flame if you please!

The Cake Biblebaking isn't my strong suit and I want to get better at it. Perhaps a little inspiration would help! Besides this is the penultimate of cake books the author not only explains the chemistry behind making intense cakes, she has plenty of five minute recipes as well!


A Roomba:I have been wanting one of these bad boys for so long!!! I just imagine how hair free our house would be.  SA however is very against them and convinced they wont work. Boo SA boo.

Mint and Vanilla: Quite possibly two of my favourite scents from Yankee Candle.

MAC eyeshadow kit: Reelers and Rockers set.  Mmmmm perfect colors!

Shape Ups: I think these would be even more comfortable than danskos!

I don't actually have a website for these... just 00 gauge swallow plugs for my ears!

So here is a quick snapshot at what I would love to my question for you is..what is on YOUR LIST?!
(and have you been naughty or nice?!)

Nov 9, 2010

Roasted Acorn Squash

      When I was three I spit a bite of King Ranch Chicken on my plate and then had to sit there for probably close to two hours, either deciding I liked the casserole or as a punishment for spitting it onto my plate, the reason escapes me.  I did so petulantly, alternately staring at the congealing plate of cheesy, tomatoey chicken and crying at the agony of sitting there for so long.  So what if there were starving kids in Africa! Send them the damn king ranch chicken, there was no way it was going in my mouth. 
     I suppose I learned my lesson though, because I can honestly say I have tried at least one bite of everything that has come my way since then.  Everything that is until this past Sunday.
     I fully expected to love the golden acorn squash with its sunny beta carotene pumpkin color and butternut squash flavor and I was excited to take the picture! It was so pretty with its maple cinnamon butter and pretty roasted outside.
     SA took a great picture and then we sat down to partake of its lovliness. I took the first bite, my fork gently cutting and scooping into the perfectly roasted flesh. 
    Then it hit my mouth.  I rolled it around.  I tried to chew it.  My taste buds tasted it.  It. was. slimy. chunky. pumpkiney when I expected squashy. It was disgusting.  I spit it out.  At thirty something I could not for the life of me get it far enough into my mouth to swallow it.  SA looked aghast at me and murmured something that sounded like: "What the F*&^k?"  and tried his half.  He liked it. He loved it.  He ate my half (around the bite that I spit back on my plate.)
Regardless of how I personally feel about acorn squash, I'm going to post this recipe! SA enjoyed it, and hopefully you will too.  Just remember if you choose not to eat it:

Roasted Acorn Squash
2 whole Acorn Squash

4 dashes Olive Oil
1/2 stick Butter, softened
1.4 cups Brown Sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 TBSP maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350. Cut open your acorn squash and dig out the guts, just like a pumpkin.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and butter together in a bowl,  Pull the squash out of the oven and top each half with a dollop of the sugar mixture. Return the wedges to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, basting often with the sugary juices in the bottom of the pan.

Squash is done when it can easily be pierced with a fork. Drizzle with more basting sauce and serve.

Acorn Squash on FoodistaAcorn Squash

Nov 7, 2010

Italian Pork Roast with Rosemary Gravy

     Growing up my family had a serious thing for pork.  A serious love affair with the other white meat. Almost borderline obsession.  My dad is the king of pork. (that is kinda gross!) He loves to cook it anyway though, grill, baked, fried(hello bacon!) etc.  SA and I on the other hand rarely eat pork, however last week when I found pork roasts on sale for an incredible deal I jumped on it, remembering that last year I made a tasty Italian style pork roast and intending on using the same recipe.
Unfortunately once I got home I couldn't find the recipe anywhere.  Fail, time to wing it!

Italian Pork Roast with Rosemary Gravy
4 Garlic cloves roughly chopped
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Rosemary
1/2 tsp. Basil
1/4 tsp. Chervil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1-2 pound pork roast

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine spices, sugar and olive oil in food processor and blend until it forms a paste.  Pat over top of roast and place roast in a baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, and then cover and back another 45 minutes.  (Depends on size of your roast). Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and
rosemary gravy.

Rosemary Gravy (Not to be confused with Rosemary's Baby)
After the roast was done:
De glaze the pan with a little wine or broth (I used wine)
add roughly 1tbsp flour and mix into liquid, scrapping up the good meat bits in the pan.
Continue stirring until thick (add a little more broth or water if you need to) and then spice to your taste.
I used about 1/4 tsp of rosemary, the same of garlic and a little salt and black pepper.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

     I saved the recipe for these muffins almost a year ago and then I held onto it for about three months before I ever even made them.  To be honest, it was this recipe that got me into blogging.  My friend (both in real life and in the blogging world) Amber sent the recipe to me and said that she endorsed them.  These were RIDICULOUS.  And by ridiculous I mean ridiculously good.  Its a pretty easy recipe and it makes just the right amount because in my opinion they don't keep too well and they are really rich with the addition of cream cheese. 

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins
delightfully borrowed and somewhat modified from Angel in the Kitchen <--click there to see the original recipe and to check out her super tasty recipes!
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg, at room temperature
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter pecan cake mix*
1 Tbsp. butter

      Preheat an oven to 400 degrees and grease a jumbo muffin tin.
      Using a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Mix until combined, but cream cheese is still chunky.
      In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the mixture and add the cream cheese mixture. Stir until combined.
     In a small bowl, combine blueberries and 1 Tbsp. flour, shake till blueberries are coated in flour. Gently fold blueberries into batter.
      In a small bowl, combine cake mix and 1 Tbsp. butter with a fork, until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture evenly across muffins.
     Bake for about 28 minutes, until muffins are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

     *the original recipe calls for white cake mix and I have used that as well as the butter pecan but I prefer the depth that the butter pecan adds.

Nov 3, 2010

Kinky Peppers

       Did you know peppers will cross pollinate if you plan them too close together? Kinky peppers!!! What does this have to do with a recipe you ask???
       Last night we had our close friends over for dinner and this happened to coincide with SA bringing some peppers home from his bosses house.  I checked the peppers out and from what I could tell by observing them, there were three kinds, Poblano, Serrano and one that I couldn't not identify but looked hot.  Clearly I was using sound reasoning on determining the heat of the last.
I decided that there was only one thing to do with the Poblanos:

Stuffed Peppers:
6 Poblano Peppers, roasted and skinned*
1/4 Pound ground beef
1/2 onion finely chopped
1/4 c. roasted corn
1/4 c. mushrooms
2 Tbsp. toasted walnuts
4 Tbsp. Cotija cheese
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 14.5 oz. can of red enchilada sauce

     In a small skillet brown ground beef, onions and garlic.  While the beef is cooking toast the walnuts for 3 minutes over medium heat or until slightly browned.  Be careful not to let the nuts burn.  When meat is almost done add mushrooms, corn, cumin and 2 Tbsp of the red enchilada sauce.  Continue cooking until meat is browned..  Remove from heat and mix in walnuts, cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Carefully stuff each of the peppers with the meat mixture and place in greased baking dish.  Cover with the rest of the can of enchilada sauce and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  At this point I added more cheese and put it under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese was melted.

     The flavor of the stuffing was awesome(SA said the peppers were tingly-tastic to his taste buds, which I think is good!), complex and nutty but mellow from the cheese it was a great accompaniment to the pepper, unfortunately, the peppers had cross pollinated and were a bit too spicy for our palate.  I think the next time I try to make these I will taste one of the Poblanos before I stuff them all.
     *How to Roast peppers:
Wash peppers and cut off stem, rinsing out all seeds.  Place on a baking sheet in the broiler for five minutes watching carefully.  You want the peppers to start to bubble and skorch.  Once one side has bubbled, flip them over and do the other side.  After both sides have skorched put the peppers in a brown paper bag in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.  Once the peppers have cooled you should be able to skin them easily.

Nov 2, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto

     I don't really have much to say about this recipe except its delicious and fulfilling! I made it to go with the apple cider pork loin, but quite honestly this dish can stand by itself and it makes a great vegetarian option! Next time I make it I am definitely not going to serve it with meat or anything else!
I love the delicate tastes of the pumpkin mixing with the hardier rice.

Pumpkin Risotto
1/4 c. Onion finely chopped

1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 C. Arborio Rice
3 C. Chicken Stock
2 TBSP salted butter
1/3 c Parmesan Cheese (Please use some quality here, folks, none of the fake stuff in the green container!)
1/2 tsp. Basil

     Heat chicken stock in a pot on stove on medium heat. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for five or so minutes until the onions are no longer crunchy. Add rice into pan and stir for a minute, coating in olive oil. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
     Keep the burner just high enough to barely simmer the stock and risotto. You must pay attention, and stir it more than occasionally, but you don't have to be a slave to the stove top.
     When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add pumpkin puree and basil. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm. Once it is done, take it off the burner and stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste

Nov 1, 2010

Fall Food is THE BEST! (Pork Loin with Carmelized Onion Apple Cider Gravy)

     Fall food is my favorite.  Homey, comforting, seasonal and delicious it embodies everything I love about cooking.
     Yesterday was Halloween and I worked most of the day but I wanted to cook something that was full of fall flavor, but wouldn't take too long since we were getting a ton of little ghosties and goblins at our door, and it took both of us to control the pirate when kids came to the door:

     He gang busted out the first time kids came to the door and licked a little princess all over.  Lucky for me her parents just laughed  and it was a good laugh, but let me tell you after that I was totally scared he would do it again!

Pork Loin
2 sprigs rosemary leaves, roughly chopped

2 sprigs sage, roughly chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
pork loin
1 large onions chopped
2 C. Apple Cider
vegetable broth
        Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a food processor, combine the chopped herbs with the garlic, crushed red pepper, a generous pinch of salt and enough olive oil to make a paste. Brush the paste on the outside of the pork loin and put in roasting pan. Add 1 cup of Apple cider.  Roast the pork at 425 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pork has developed a lovely brown crust. Check the pork, Add vegetable broth if  too much of the apple cider has cooked down.
       Lower the oven to 375 degrees F and roast for another 30 to 35 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 150 degrees F. If the crust on the pork starts to get too dark, cover it with foil. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the cider from the bottom of the roasting pan and reserve for the gravy.
      Let the pork rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. When ready to carve cut into thin slices.

Apple Cider Gravy
I Tbsp. butter
1 large onion cut in slivers
1 Tbsp. flour
1 1.2 cups reserved apple cider/broth
salt and pepper to taste.
1 Tbsp. Apple Butter
     Heat the pan on medium high heat until butter is melted. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the butter. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process. Once onions have reached a caramel color, sprinkle flour over and mix in until onions are coated and you can't see the flour.  Pour in apple cider/broth mixture and turn up to high heat.
Still on a high heat, reduce the cider by half stirring all the time scraping the goodness from the bottom of the pan. Once the gravy has thickened add salt and pepper to taste and finish with the apple butter for an extra apple taste!
     I loved this recipe. It was super easy and combined some of the best flavors of fall.  The next time I make it I am going to make a pot of garlic mashed potatoes to go with it so that I have something else to put the delicious gravy on!!!

Oct 16, 2010

chēzˈbûrˌgər so̵̅o̅p

cheese·burg·er (chēzˈbûrˌgər) noun: A hamburger topped with melted cheese.
soup (so̵̅o̅p) noun: A liquid food, with or without solid particles, made by cooking meat, vegetables, fish, etc. in water, milk, or the like
     I have a confession to make:  I don't like soup.  I never have.  It is less than thrilling for me to be served a bowl of soup and I dislike the muddled tastes of most soups most of all, however this year in an effort to be more conservative and push myself to enjoy different things, I am on a mission to find soup recipes that I like.
This definetley fits the bill.  I dont know whether it is because its more chunky than most soups or because it has some of my favorite elements (HELLO CHEESE!!) but I really enjoyed this recipe and will most definetly be adding it to my repotoire of recipes that feed a crowd.

Cheeseburger Soup
1 lb ground beef

1 onion, diced
3/4 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cups vegetable broth
4 cups potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter or 4 tablespoons margarine
ketchup, mustard and sweet pickle relish for garnish.

In a large pot, brown ground beef and onion add broth, celery, carrots, parsley and potatoes. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in flour. Add the milk and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Stir in cheese; continue to stir until cheese is melted. Make sure once you have added the cheese that you do not let it boil. Garnish with ketchup, mustard and sweet pickle relish and serve with crusty bread.

Pop. Six. Squish. Unh-uh. Cicero. Lipschitz. *

I've been really obsessed with making pizza lately and there was only so much time before I decided to make a Chicago style stuffed pizza.  My absolute favorite kind of pizza ever. Not that I have ever been to Chicago, but I have had the delivery! So tonight I decided to try my hand at the double crusted goodness.  This recipe was really good, and making it in my spring form pan was a great idea. It made it super easy to get out of the pan, and I think it will help with not making the crust soggy. I might have went a little overboard on the filling but all in all it was delicious.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp yeast
6-8 TBS water
4-4.5 TBS
3/4 tsp Kosher salt
3/4  tsp sugar
Proof the yeast, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix and knead for 2 minutes. Coat the dough ball with oil. Let rise for 3-6 hours.

1 Package of chopped spinach (Well drained, and by well drained I mean squeezed and drained)
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/4 c. sliced olives
1 onion sliced and lightly sauteed in olive oil
12 large pepperoni
1/2 c. crumbled cooked Italian sausage
1/4 c. Parmesan

1 large can organic crushed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic smashed and finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. agave sweetener
Italian spices to your taste
crushed red pepper flakes (I went heavy on those)

combine and set to side.

 Preheat the oven to 450° F. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a work surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Divide the dough into two pieces, about 1/3 and 2/3 of the dough. Roll out the larger piece in a large circle until it is about 3 inches larger than the spring form pan and 1/8 inch thick. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and  place the dough into the pan and push it into the bottom and sides. The dough should overlap the pan by about 1 inch.  Roll the second piece until it is the same size as the pan. Mix the  cheese and spinach together and place in bottom of pan. Then add a layer of pepperoni and on top of that sauteed onions and olives.  Top with spicy sausage and add another layer of cheese and then tomato sauce.  Lay the second piece of dough on top, then roll  the two edges of the dough together with your fingers to form a thick border. Press down on the filling with your hand, and cut a 1-inch slit in the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape.

* A couple of things in hindsight:
--I wish I would of baked the pizza and then put the sauce on top of the finished pizza.
--I wish I had made this bad boy all vegetables and also made the spinach layer a little less thick.  It was good but I wanted it mixed in more.
--Next time purple onions instead of white and more spice definitely.

All in all it was pretty good I  am going to continue on my search for a super yummy buttery good crust and possibly one that doesn't have to rise so much.

I know, I know weird title if you have never seen Chicago, which I was singing lines from while cooking, photographing and writing this blog!

Oct 8, 2010

How to Make a Green Bean Utterly Unhealthy

SA and I are pretty boring.  We rarely go out during the week, and much prefer to spend our evenings, walking our hotdog bandido, watching movies, or just hanging out.  We do however make exceptions for our friends T and M who literally live around the corner for us.  We like to go over, let our fur babies hang out together in their back yard and a lot of times we eat dinner together, and hang out.  A lot of times it's spontaneous.  This time we were going over to pick up some tomatoes that M grew.  Well, going to pick up tomatoes turned into lets have dinner! Great! Worked for us...except I had already defrosted some meat and also had big plans.
So we decided to have a combined dinner!!! Best of both worlds! T and M were having fried zucchini from the garden and some pork chops on the grill.  SA and I were totally having a junk food night and were having a buffalo chicken pizza complete with Ray's buffalo chicken hot sauce, cheddar cheese and homemade pizza dough.  Oh, and fried green beans with a P.F. Chang's like sauce to go with it.  Crazy menu, I know but in my defense, SA brought home some mutant large green beans from his boss and I wasn't sure what to do with them!
At any rate, we decided to eighty-six the pork chops and had fried zucchini and green beans and buffalo chicken pizza for dinner.  Delish! I wish I had taken pictures of the buffalo chicken pizza, but I am sure that is something that is going to make it into our rotation, however, I will share the fried green beans with sauce!

Tempura Green Beans
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 cup ice water

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg slightly and mix with the ice water.
Stir in the dry ingredients. Stir only until mixed; mixture will be slightly lumpy.
Honestly, when I got to this point I just dumped the EXTRA LARGE green beans in the bowl and then fried them roughly a minute in some fairly hot vegetable oil, turning once until they were golden brown.

P.F. Chang like- sauce for fried green beans
1 cup  mayonnaise

2 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
6 green onions, whites only, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Put everything in a blender or a food processor and process till smooth.

Fair warning: this sauce is CRAZY addictive.  I think by the end of the night we were dipping everything in it!!!

Oct 4, 2010

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

I think I'm on an octoberfest kinda kick today...
and yes, I know those aren't egg noodles, but this recipe was so bomb that i just used some noodles we had and called it...delish!

Pork Schnitzel (source: delightfully borrowed and slightly modified from Tyler Florence)
4 boneless pork loin chops (about 5 to 6 ounces each)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 sprig thyme
Lemon wedges

Begin by placing each chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and gently pounding them out with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until they are an even 1/4-inch thick.

Put the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs and milk in another shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Put the bread crumbs in a third dish and again season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge each piece of pork in flour, then in the egg and finally into the bread crumbs, pressing the bread crumbs onto the pork gently so they have a nice even coating.
Lay the breaded pork cutlets in a single layer on a plate lined with parchment and refrigerate, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes to allow the coating to dry out a little and adhere to the pork.
Heat oil and butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the thyme sprig and let it fry for about 1 minute to infuse the oil. Remove the thyme sprig and reserve. Gently lay the cutlets into the pan and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Season with salt and transfer to a serving platter while still hot

germanaustrianslovakian delight

    Last night I decided it was time to go back to my roots so to speak.  I'm sure that it is very unPC of me but I always just lump all of the dishes from Hungary, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia together(unless of course we are talking dessert, then I can joyfully name where each tea ring, kolache and dumpling is from). In my mind you have a little stew of some kind, a knoedel of sorts and perhaps if you are feeling daring a lump of sour cream on top and you call it germanaustrianslovakia food.
     Maybe when I get to culinary arts school I will learn something different and my life will be revolutionized.  Maybe not, but for now, my little Czech self is going to claim that last night I went back to my roots...
making Hungarian Goulash.
     Now with this dish I think the SA said it best when I said:
"Is it good? It better be, it's been cooking for the last three hours" and SA said:
"It took three hours to make this?"
and I glared.
Now don't get me wrong all of those three hours were not spent in the kitchen, but STILL. It was a really long time to cook and not feel wildly enthusiastic about the dish. Don't get me wrong, it was still really good and the leftover goulash was delish today so in the end... would I recommend this dish?
Sure it was good. :)

3 pounds of stew meat cut into bite size pieces seasoned with salt and cracked pepper
2 large onions sliced thin
olive oil for searing
2TBSP Hungarian  paprika
2 garlic cloves sliced thin
1 TBSP caraway seeds
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 large can of tomato sauce
1/2 c. vegetable stock
kosher salt & pepper to taste
flour for searing meat

In a large dutch oven with a lid add enough olive oil to coat the pan and turn on high heat until oil shimmers but does not smoke. Pat the meat dry and dredge in flour seasoned with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Sear meat for about three to four minutes per side until it has a nice brown. When meat is all seared turn the heat to medium and add a little more olive oil and cook till the onions are tender about three to four minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant thirty seconds more. Add the tomato paste, and paprika and cook for one to two minutes. Then add the tomato sauce, caraway seeds, lemon zest and stock and stir well. Bring to a summer for about fifteen minutes and taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary. If the sauce is to thick add more stock or water until its the consistency of gravy. Simmer for two hours.

     Now lets talk for a second about these bread dumplings.  The first set I tried to make fell apart in the water it was gross.  Just a scummy top layer of bread and grease. Yuck! I almost was unwilling to try again, but I sucked it up, drained the pot and added a little panko to the dough.

After all... my brotknoedel brings all the boys to the yard!

Brotknoedel or Bread Dumplings
 loaf stale French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
2 strips of bacon

.Place the bread cubes into a large bowl. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble at the edges, then pour it over the bread cubes. Stir briefly to coat the bread. Let soak for 15 minutes.

.Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions; cook and stir until tender. Stir in the parsley, and remove from the heat. Mix into the bowl with the bread along with the eggs, salt and pepper and bacon.
Use your hands, squeezing the dough through your fingers until it is smooth and sticky.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. The water should be at least 3 or 4 inches deep. When the water is boiling, make a test dumpling about the size of a small orange or tangerine, by patting and cupping between wet hands. Gently drop into the boiling water. If it falls apart, the dough is too wet. In this case, stir some bread crumbs into the rest of the dumpling batter.
Form the remaining dough into large dumplings, and carefully drop into the boiling water. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove to a serving plate with a large slotted spoon. They should come out soft, spongy and delicious!

Oct 2, 2010

Edible Thistles and Other Fun Things

Today was such a great day, not only did I get a new hair color: HELLO brunette/red head! But I got to celebrate one of the cutest kids I knows first birthday(she was very delicate and grabbed small bites instead of mawing into the cake). Tonight for dinner I had some chicken that I had defrosted two days ago so I HAD to cook it today.  It was quickly approaching the point of no return. 
A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe for chicken breasts stuffed with artichokes and goat cheese, so going into the kitchen I had the kind of  had something like that in mind.  However, once I got into the kitchen and surveyed my ingredients it wasn't gonna happen. No goat cheese, but I DID have some feta. It was on.  In my opinion, stuffed chicken breasts are a pain in the ass.  They take a long time to cook, they are hard to tell if they are done, and meh...lets just face it most of the filling ends up in the pan you cooked it in, thus turning to SAUCE. So, I decided to make chicken breasts with a delicious delicate creamy sauce...NOM!
Chicken Breasts with Artichoke Feta Sauce
14 ounce can artichoke bottoms chopped
1/4 cup crumble  feta cheese
2 skinned, boned chicken breasts
¼ tsp pepper
2 tsp butter
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth

Heat 1 teaspoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, and cook 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from skillet. Set aside; keep warm. Scrape the pan and add the vegetable broth, feta and artichoke hearts stirring constantly. Add spices, and lemon juice, stirring until feta is slightly melted and incorporated.

p.s. Taking pictures of tan things is so difficult! Sorry about the ugly pictures!

Oct 1, 2010

Heeeelllllo Gougeres!

     Tonight I was in the mood to try out a new recipe, and I wanted to try something completely different, so I jumped online and it seemed that there was a new group cooking their way through a French cooking cookbook and the first recipe was for gougeres.  Since I don't have the cookbook I wont try and join the cooking group, but the pictures intrigued me: puffy little flaky cheesy bites. Who wouldn't love that?
The recipe was super easy, and I will definitely be earmarking this one for easy entertaining, especially going into the holidays.


slightly modified from:
Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1 c water

4 T (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c (about 7 oz) all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 c  grated Cheddar cheese
1 c grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t chervil

Lightly grease a baking sheet and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the water, butter, and salt in medium saucepan; turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the butter melts, just a minute or two longer. Add the flour all at once and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough holds together in a ball, 5 minutes or less.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating hard after each addition (I used my kitchen aid). Stop beating when the mixture is glossy. Stir in the cheeses, black pepper and chervil.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet and bake until light brown, 10-20 minutes.(mine took about 18-22)
I finished the gougeres with a couple of rough chopped tomatoes mixed with a little fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt and rosemary.

Sep 26, 2010

Anniversary Cake

The Sexy Artist and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on September 12th(it has been a crazy amazing wonderful year and I love him everyday just as much if not more than the day I married him!) and while I would like to report back that it was romantic including cheesy scenes of us feeding each other dried bits of cake lovingly preserved in layers of plastic wrap and foil from our wedding, this was not the case.  The week before our wedding anniversary I unexpectedly had to have my gallbladder removed.  Not only that, somehow I threw away the cake we had saved! I didn't do it on purpose, even though many of you will remember me griping that we should just eat the cake then rather than let it stale for a year.  I think I thought it was one of these weird cuts of pork the SA bought one time when he ventured to the store by himself. (which have subsequently lived in our freezer for the past two years) Needless to say I felt horrible.  Not only were our get-away plans ruined, I had thrown away our cake! There was only one thing left to do.  Recreate the wedding cake. 
Quickly I ruled out two of our flavors, gingerbread with caramelized apples (neither of us are huge fans except in small pieces) and chocolate turtle (while it was delicious its just too rich) So I decided to make a variation of the chai spice cake with white chocolate frosting.
It was a gorgeous cake, delicious frosting and a great way of celebrating our first anniversary.

Chai Cake with Honey Ginger Cream
slightly modified from From Sky High:Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
1 and 1/3 cups of milk
6 chai tea bags
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 and 3/4 cups of cake flour
2 cups of sugar
4 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of salt
8 ounces of unsalted butter at room temp.
Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of the pans and line with parchment paper. Grease the paper as well.
In a small saucepan bring the milk to a simmer over low med-low heat. Add the tea bags, careful not to let the paper tag fall into the milk. Remove from heat and allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags and squeeze out the milk. Let the chai milk cool completely.
In a medium bowl mix the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/3 cup of the chai milk. Whisk together.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining chai milk, on med-low speed.
Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture in three additions scraping the between additions. Divide the batter evenly among the pans.
Bake the cakes for 26-28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.Remove cakes from pans and peel off parchment paper. Cool completely.
Ginger Cream
2 and 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
6 ounces of cream cheese at room temp.
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 cup of honey (I used blackberry)
1 TBSP. finely minced crystallized ginger
Place all the ingredients in stand mixer and mix till blended.

Crystallized ginger
    Peel and thinly slice 1 pound  fresh ginger root. Place sliced ginger in a heavy saucepan, cover with water and cook gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain off water.
    Weigh the cooked ginger and measure an equal amount of sugar and return to saucepan.  Add sugar and three tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, stirring often, and cook until ginger is transparent and liquid has almost evaporated. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, until almost dry.Toss cooled ginger in sugar to coat. My ginger was really liquid almost the consistency of a caramel, so I poured it onto a cookie sheet and let it cool in the freezer and then broke it into pieces, almost like a ginger brittle.

BBQ Chili

This past week was the beginning of fall, and I am definitely ready for it. I'm ready for pumpkin patches, fireplaces, sweaters and comfort food! Today I thought I would start the season off a little early with one of my go to easy dishes...chili!
I decided to take a little different of a spin on it which was delightful, SA was thrilled with the BBQ-ness of it and I was thrilled at how easy it came together.  I am pretty sure this is going to be my new "feed a crowd" recipe.

BBQ Chili
1 pound ground beef
1 Cans kidney, beans rinsed and drained
1 Cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Can white beans
1 Can of Ranch Style Beans
1  onion, chopped
1 1/2 TBS chili powder
1/2 TBS cumin
1 Can diced tomatoes
1/2 c vegetable broth
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
1 c. BBQ sauce

Brown ground beef and drain.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer or  I put it in a crock pot for about 2.5 hours on high.
We topped those off with corn chips from Trader Joe's and a little sour cream.