Sunday, December 27, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Recipes for the lemon and pumpkin pie were from America's Test Kitchen. If anybody's interested in the recipes, leave me a comment and perhaps I'll get around to posting them.
Leftover Thanksgiving turkey
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Instead, we enjoyed a nice meal. It was lovely to get away for the weekend to visit my parents and I look forward to visiting my husband's family tomorrow. I didn't bring my camera home, but was able to snap a few pictures using my mom's camera. The lighting conditions were less than ideal, and thus, the picture qualities are less than stellar. Still delicious, though. And, you get to see my parents' new kitchen countertop.
Earlier today, I managed to catch my favorite television show, America's Test Kitchen, where they made garlic mashed potatoes using a slightly modified method. I was also carrying on a conversation at the time, so I didn't get the exact method and quantities, but I think I recreated it fairly well with the ingredients that were on hand. I also left out a lot of butter, but they were still delicious (especially with the Marsala sauce!). And, I should mention that my mom did most of the work on the chicken and also made a lovely side of broccoli (my favorite veg). Good job, Mom!
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into three pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Put flour in a shallow dish or pie plate.
2. Pound the thicker ends of the chicken breasts, or cut breasts into cutlets and pound to even thinness, if you prefer. Pat dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook each side until lightly golden brown. If going the cutlet route, you will need to do two batches and they will cook faster. When done, transfer to a platter in the oven to keep warm.
4. Add remaining tablespoon oil and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pancetta and mushrooms. Cooking until the pancetta is crisp and mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes.
5. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 minutes. Add Marsala, being sure to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 8 minutes.
6. Stir in lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juice. Over low heat, whisk in butter once piece at a time. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.
Whew! That's it. I should add that the men-folk in the house (my dad and husband) were slightly concerned about how strong the garlic would be in the potatoes based upon the smell of the initial garlic cooking. They were pleasantly surprised, as the initial cooking really mellows the garlic flavor. Give 'em a try!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
A couple recent pictures of my horse, Bear. We went on a trail ride and it was fun.
All ready to head home...
Also, if you need a smile, be sure to check out My Milk Toof. It's adorable.
That's it for now. Food blogging resumes sometime in the future...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Bananas pose somewhat of a problem for me. They’re nutritious. They’re conveniently portable and self-contained. They’re relatively inexpensive. However, I only like them just prior to becoming ripe. Once bananas become fully ripe (and reach the peak of deliciousness, I’m told by others), I can’t do it. It has mostly to do with texture, I think. Too mushy. And the taste. Too much banana. Too banana-y.
As a result, there are usually a number of brown bananas in the freezer, which end up in various cakes, muffins, and breads. Unfortunately, I don’t care for any of those (again, too much banana). Fortunately, I’m in the minority and can always find people to help me out. I’ve taken to making muffins instead of loaves, as they are more easily distributed and don’t end up all in one place (e.g., Jeff’s belly).
Using standard muffins cups and a greased 1/3 cup measure for scooping, this yielded more than 12 muffins. I’m guessing it probably would make about 15. Rather than make more regular muffins, I used a cookie scoop and a little tartlet pan to make 12 little muffin tops (or muffies, if you prefer), as we all know the best part of the muffin is the top, right? Some of my previous Perkins coworkers can vouch for my obsession with muffin tops (“Hey Alex—wanna share a muffin? I left you the bottom half…”).
Little muffies, all in a row...
Little muffies, all in a row...
As you can tell in the pictures, the oven has fairly savage hot and cool spots. It also lacks a window on the door and a light on the inside. I feel that adds more risk (and sometimes, more reward) to the cooking/baking process. I opted not to remove that risk by rotating the muffin pans halfway through baking. Be adventurous! Don’t rotate! Just kidding. Or am I?
And lastly, dear Rachael: I could not help but think of you while I was baking these. I contemplated making a cream cheese frosting, just like they had on the good days at the Norm, in honor of you. Miss you!
Muffin glamour shot!
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ cups whole or low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (or more) chocolate chips
3 very ripe bananas, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 12-cup muffin tins or one 12-cup tin and whatever you can find with which you want to experiment.
Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients until barely combined. Fold in melted butter. Fold in chocolate chips and bananas, being careful not to over-mix.
Scoop batter into muffin cups using a greased 1/3 cup measure. Bake until golden and toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes (less is you make smaller muffins). If you’re feeling ambitious, rotate the pans halfway through baking.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. These are best the day they’re made, but have enough moisture to keep a couple days.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
This is my own take on my favorite pizza at work. It also was an opportunity to use up various leftovers in the fridge. The pizza that inspired this is topped with mushrooms, but mushrooms are not my favorite. If you like mushrooms, throw ‘em on. The sauce is so rich and creamy (with a little bit of melted cheese mixed in) that very little cheese is required on top. Unless, of course, you really love cheese.
This pizza smelled amazing and tasted even better. My husband’s response, upon first glance was, “I could eat a lot of that.” And he did.
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup cream
¼ cup finely grated parmesan or other hard cheese
Pizza crust of choice (I wrote about my choice here)
Cheese of choice (mozzarella or Italian blend)
Cooked chicken breast, sliced or shredded
Diced bell pepper, red onion, corn (fresh or frozen kernels)
Red pepper flakes, if you like spice :)
To make sauce: Slowly cook minced garlic in melted butter over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add cream and gently simmer until slightly reduced and thickened. Stir in cheese until smooth and remove from heat. The sauce will thicken upon standing, but will still be plenty spreadable.
Prepare pizza crust as directed. Spread with sauce, and then add cheese, chicken, vegetables, and red pepper flakes. Bake until cheese is spotted golden brown.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I just received a new power cord for my laptop. Hooray! So, I have another picture from my new camera to share.
Over the past few weeks, I've received several large quantities of green beans, courtesy of my mom's plentiful bean patch. I made stir fry earlier in the week and minced waaaay too much garlic and ginger, and that's how this recipe arose...
Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger
1 pound green beans, washed and ends trimmed (either left whole or cut into pieces)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil, if you prefer)
Steam green beans until still quite crisp, 6-8 minutes. Drain off water if any remains. Push green beans to one side of skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat in open part of skillet, then add garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant, then mix the beans, garlic, and ginger. Continue cooking until the beans reach the desired point of tenderness and the garlic and ginger are deliciously golden brown. Season with salt, if desired.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
There has been somewhat of a chill in the air in recent days here in Minneapolis. So, when browsing through options for the eggplant that came in this week's CSA, a baked pasta seemed apt. Rather than measuring the precise amounts of olive oil, cheese, and tomato sauce, I prefer to eyeball it. It saves time and dishes!
Baked Penne with Eggplant- Pasta alla Norma
Adapted from Molto Italiano, by Mario Batali
2 pounds small to medium eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound penne or other short pasta
2 cups tomato sauce (jarred is fine... and faster!)
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1/2 Italian cheese, such as grated Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, Grana Padano, or a preshredded cheese blend
10 fresh basil leaves, rough torn, or leaves from several fresh oregano sprigs
Extra cheese for grating
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with olive oil.
Bring salted water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta two minutes short of package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Drain well, return to saucepan, and toss with one cup of pasta sauce.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Layer as follows:
1/4 cup tomato sauce
Half of the breadcrumbs
Half of the pasta
Half of the eggplant slices
Half of the cheese and basil or oregano
Remaining cheese and basil or oregano
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil
Bake for 45 minutes then let rest for 10 minutes. If the cheese and breadcrumbs brown too quickly, cover with foil. Plate up, grate cheese over each portion, and enjoy!
Here's the problem: my computer is full. The power cord is also barely functioning. Once both of those situations have been remedied, blogging will resume. Hang tight! In the meantime, please check out my dear friend Britt's blog: Raccoon & Rain. We visited her on the roadtrip, which is a large part of why it was amazingly fun.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
1. I'm on vacation. Hooray!
2. I got a new camera. I made the best of my old Canon, but it stopped working earlier this week. However, I just so happened to see an amazing deal for a used digital SLR on craigslist the day before my camera decided to stop working. I swear, I had nothing to do with that.
3. Two pictures from somewhere in western North Dakota:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Disclaimer: I don't know anything about photography.
Here is the camera I use:
It's a Canon A85 Powershot. I received it as a Christmas gift when I was a freshman in college. I don't think they make this model anymore... So, no lenses involved.
Here's my "studio":
See all the sunshine? It's bright!
And, I know nothing about photography, but here's what I do:
1. Use natural light (no flash!).
2. Use minimalistic plates/backgrounds (I have two colors of plates and two colors of tag board: white and blue).
2. Use the macro setting.
3. Keep the camera still (easy if you have a tripod).
4. Adjust the photo. I use Picasa, which is very easy to use and free. I use it to crop, adjust the light and color balance, sharpen, and sometime slightly blur the background.
I usually shoot on the Aperture setting, but with this camera, the f-stop value doesn't seem to make a huge difference.
Here's a before picture that I took later in the day when it was a bit dark:
...And after a few Picasa adjustments:
This picture also features today's recipe! They are a bit flat in the above photo due to the extreme heat of my apartment, but they are simply the best in my book. They can range from gooey on the inside and chewy around the edges to chewy in the middle with crisp edges depending on how long you cook them.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
aka my Grandma Mildred's Chocolate Chip Cowboy Cookies
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (or a second stick butter)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 generous teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups chocolate chips (I really love Guittard milk chocolate chips, as they are delicious but not outrageously expensive)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder together and set aside. Beat butter, shortening, and sugars until very fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Add half dry ingredients, mix until incorporated, then repeat. Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips.
Drop cookies onto cookie sheet using two spoons or a scoop and bake 9-12 minutes, depending on how done you like them. I prefer to take the cookies out around the 9 minute mark (they will look underdone) and let them finish cooking on the cookie sheet out of the oven.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
As a result of our CSA, cucumbers have been accumulating in the fridge. Then, my parents came to visit and brought a cucumber from the garden. Something had to be done. I went through the fridge and found what I could and threw it together. This is what resulted:
Spicy Cucumber Salad
Makes 4 Servings
¼-½ Red Onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper and Coarse Salt
Slice cucumber into quarter moons, approximately ½-inch thick. Dice bell pepper into medium dice and jalapeno into fine dice. Slice onion into large pieces. Toss all vegetables, then drizzle with olive oil and lime juice. Toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I am not a huge fan of dishes where mayo is a key ingredient. When I saw Mark Bittman's take on coleslaw that uses a vinaigrette in mayo's place, I thought it would be worth a try. This coleslaw had a great bite to it (both in texture and flavor) and would recommend it to anyone with a surplus of cabbage.
Since we only had three people (which is one more than usual), I halved the recipe. I omitted the peppers and parsley, but the dish still had plenty of flavor.
Adapt from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
Makes about 2 quarts
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive, peanut, or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
6 cups cored and shredded cabbage
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, peeled if desired, seeded, and diced
1 cup diced scallions
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Whisk the Dijon mustard and vinegar together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil. Add the sugar and whisk to dissolve.
Add the cabbage, peppers, and scallions (reserve some for sprinkling on top, if desired). Toss with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate for an hour up to 24 hours (I served right away). Toss with parsley just before serving.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I adapted the blueberry compote recipe from She Simmers. I ended up with about twice as much compote than I needed, but the extra is delicious in plain yogurt (here’s an opportunity to make your own, if you haven’t tried it yet) or on ice cream. If you don't want the extra, half the compote ingredients.
And, without further ado:
Blueberry Fritter Bread
1 pint blueberries, washed but still wet
1/2 cup powdered sugar (more if your blueberries need it)
1 pound no-knead Artisan bread dough (challah, brioche, or boule dough)
Splash milk, cream, or lemon juice and additional 1/4 cup powdered sugar for glaze
Put wet blueberries in small saucepan. Add 1/2 powdered sugar. Stir to combine. Heat over medium-low heat until thick and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Carefully sample to check sweetness balance and add more sugar if necessary.
Transfer half of compote into a large bowl and let cool until warm, but not hot. Enjoy the other half on pancakes, yogurt, ice cream, etc.
While the compote is cooking, pat bread dough to roughly ¾-inch thickness on floured surface.
With a bench scraper or knife coated with cooking spray, slice the dough into small pieces.
Add the dough pieces (separate as you add them to the bowl if stuck together) to the compote bowl and gently stir until all the dough pieces are coated with compote. Transfer mixture to a greased loaf pan and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Bake in a 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until crusty on top. If in doubt, bake a little longer. There’s a lot of moisture in the dough and compote and you want to make sure it bakes all the way through.
Let cool in pan for 15 minutes then turn out onto wire rack. Let cool completely (if you can wait. I couldn’t). Gradually add milk, cream, or lemon juice to ¼ cup powdered sugar until a glaze consistency is reached. Drizzle onto bread.
There you have it!
See those blueberries? They're in the bread! That slice didn't last long...
Get creative with the filling- try raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, or apple. If you have any bread left over, I highly recommend French toast or bread pudding. Or, make two loaves and save one for later!
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Since then, we have not looked backed. We no longer get takeout or buy frozen, although we do occasionally go to Punch, although that's a different kind of pizza, so it doesn't really count.
I used to only like pepperoni on my pizza. Pure and simple. I've branched out a bit and now like a number of things, but stay far away from olives. We always have pepperoni, onions, garlic, and a pepper of some sort on hand and that's what goes on the weekly pizza.
I par-bake the crust before topping to prevent a soggy crust. I choose to bake the crust on a cookie sheet on a pizza stone. I have attempted several times sliding the pizza directly on the stone with varying levels of success (and failure) and feel safer using a cookie sheet.
The crust is crisp on the bottom and edges, with a good chew and airy crumb. It takes perhaps a bit longer than getting takeout, but it's far cheaper and tastes unbelievable better. Try it. You may never buy pizza again.
(The Artisan Bread in 5 recipes can be found here.)
Easy Homemade Pizza
Approximately 1 lb. no-knead boule dough (or olive oil dough, if you prefer)
Pizza sauce of choice (make your own or use store-bought for a short cut... I like Trader Joe's)
Toppings of choice (I like pepperoni, onions, peppers, garlic, and dried oregano)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle a nonstick cookie sheet or a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or brushed with olive oil with cornmeal. Pat or roll the pizza dough to approximately 1/4-inch thick (more or less, depending on how you like your crust). If dough resists stretching, let rest and try again a few minutes later. Let rise until dough loses its chill and becomes slightly puffy. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and top with sauce, cheese, and toppings. If using fresh herbs (such as basil and oregano) wait to put them on until the last minute or two or when it's out of the oven to preserve the flavor. Bake the topped pizza until the cheese is melted and golden and the crust is browned.
PS- See the pepper on the pizza? I grew that! Well, I planted the pepper plant in my parents' garden. I think that counts.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday was my husband’s birthday. Happy birthday, buddy! When he first laid eyes upon this recipe, he immediately declared, “That’s what I want for my birthday cake.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “It doesn’t even have chocolate in it.” He replied, “It looks fruity and light. That’s what I want.”
Okay. No chocolate for me.
News about this cake spread before the birthday celebration, creating an air of anticipation prior to the unveiling. I was worried about the cake sticking to the springform pan, so I let the birthday man have the honor (and the risk) of unmolding and slicing. The springform ring came off just fine, but it was a little tricky transferring the slices to plates. And the taste? Well, I'm not a big fan of Jell-O, and it certainly wasn't chocolate, but it was tasty. I think it was well received by all in attendance.
A few notes:
-Rather than purchase a can of pineapple juice, I opted to buy pineapple chunks in natural juice. It was about the same price, contained the exact amount of juice necessary, and I got to enjoy some delicious pineapple chunks, too. Mmmm… nature’s candy.
-I was somewhat distracted when preparing the crust and accidentally put ¾ cup sugar in the crust, rather than ¼ cup. It still worked out just fine and I don't think anybody noticed. Until right about now. Whoops, the secret is out.
-9 crackers, crushed, equaled 1 ½ cups of crumbs for me.
Stained Glass Cake
From Cook's Country, June/July 2009
12 graham crackers, crushed to fine crumbs (about 1 ½ cups)
¾ cup sugar, divided
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 (3 ounce) boxes Jell-O
4 ½ cups boiling water
¾ cup pineapple juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Stir cracker crumbs, ¼ sugar, and butter in bowl until crumbs resemble wet sand. Press into bottom of 9-inch springform pan and bake until edges are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
For the filling: In 3 separate large bowls, whisk each box Jell-O with 1 ½ cups boiling water until dissolved. Pour into 3 loaf pans or pie plates (I used cake pans) and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Once set, cut into ½-inch cubes and keep chilled. Combine ¼ cup pineapple juice and unflavored gelatin in bowl. Microwave, stirring occasionally, until dissolved, 1 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in remaining pineapple juice. With electric stand mixer set on medium-high, whip cream, vanilla, salt, and remaining sugar until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add juice mixture until combined. Gently fold Jell-O cubes into cream mixture. Scrape into prepared pan and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
I recently learned that my blog has somewhat of a following among my husband’s family. Thanks for reading!