Saturday, December 31, 2011
Last week I was perusing Tastespotting and saw a delicious looking recipe for Bite-sized Baked Brie appetizers. I happened to have a block of light brie cheese that loses something when eaten plain but was totally the same when melted. I asked my family if I could bring the appetizer and they said yes!
On her blog, Joy the Baker puts sticks into her baked brie bites but I omitted the sticks. I also did something everyone was asking about--I made them early and froze them. This worked just fine, I froze them first on trays and then threw them into a gallon sized ziploc once frozen so that they didn't freeze in a block. Then we brought them on an hour and 20 minute car ride in a sub par cooler (standard defrosting). The bites weren't completely defrosted but they cooked up fine in about 15 minutes in the oven at 375. I forgot to put the salt on top but it wasn't necessary. These appetizers were an absolute hit. At times I felt I came across a pastry that didn't have enough filling so make sure to fill yours well. Otherwise, make these.
Baked Bite-Sized Brie Bites Recipe
Sunday, December 25, 2011
So I checked online in late November and searched for recipes that might fit the bill. I was hoping for some kind of overnight sweet breakfast dish that could serve 7. I stumbled upon overnight baked french toast--a recipe by Paula Dean with over 9,000 reviews and 5 stars.
I decided to make the "baked french toast" as a test weeks before Christmas and then ended up failing at that plan because I didn't realize it required overnight time. So we went cold turkey on Christmas Eve/Morning with a new recipe.
I also made an error in my bread buying on the 23rd. Paula called for French bread and I thought she meant those long thin loaves but it turned out after closer inspection that she meant the wider and flatter Italian French bread. We decided to mix the bread choice from Giada's baked French toast recipe with the recipe for Paula's by using Challah bread that we cut into thick slices from two loaves. We also used the Mario Batali Lasagna pan which is 9x13 but taller--3.25 instead of a traditional 9x13x(2inches?) which caused us to increase the ingredients a bit to make sure we had plenty of liquid.
The process was incredibly simple, the French Toast took about 15 minutes to assemble and slept in the refrigerator all night long. In the morning we took it out about a half hour before baking and then baked it for about 40 minutes with a topping making the FT soft in places and crispy in others--almost as perfect as the fried variety.
Paula Dean & Giada's Overnight Baked French Toast
adapted from The Food Network Recipe 1 & Recipe 2
Serves 10-12 (we served 7 and almost everyone had a second helping but there was enough for maybe 3 more)
1 1/2 loaves Challah bread, let the bread sit out for a few hours or longer so it dries out a bit in advance
9 Large Eggs
1 1/2 C Whole Milk
2 1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
2 T sugar
2 t Cinnamon (or to taste, we liberally added cinnamon)
1 t nutmeg (or to taste, I wasn't watching the person adding this)
1 t vanilla extract
dash of salt
butter for greasing the pan
2 T sugar
1 T cinnamon
1. Grease a 9x13 pan, preferably with higher than 2" sides, but that will work fine in a pinch (I totally missed this step and it made a difference in the clean up)
2. Slice the Challah bread into 1 inch slices and line the pan with the bread close together slices on end (like a file cabinet). If you have holes, slice smaller pieces to fit into the holes. The bread should be tight enough not to fall over but not too tight so you can't get in between the slices with your fingers
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until all the yolks have broken.
4. Add all other ingredients and whisk to combine
5. Pour liquid evenly over the pan of bread and use a spoon to distribute in between the layers. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
*The next Morning*
1. Remove the dish from the refrigerator when you get up
2. Preheat the oven to 350
3. Make the topping by combining 2 T sugar and 1 T cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove the cover on the dish and sprinkle the topping all over--this will make the top crisp
4. Bake 40 minutes or until toast is lightly golden brown and puffed and liquid is mostly set
5. Cut into squares and serve warm with syrup
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Sometimes I want Indian food but the thing is, my husband doesn't eat Indian food so we don't go out to eat it ever. I of course could go at lunch--but the problem there is that there is no good Indian restaurant in walking distance. And you know nobody drives at lunch.
Anyway, I was at Whole Foods the other day looking for hazelnuts and decided to buy two different frozen Indian dinners. I bought Amy's Paneer Saag which I have had before along with Saffron's Road Lamb Saag. Nutrition wies the Paneer & Lamb Saag are pretty close and not incredibly terrible--but they aren't that filling either so fill up with lots of additional fruits and vegetables!
I was really impressed by the Lamb Saag. The flavors were there, the lamb was incredibly tender and there was a good amount of lamb. I think that this is a keeper. Try it for yourself!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Little known fact: Joey and I have not once been successful at pizza making. It's true, I know it's tough to even fathom being such cooks and bakers. We can't believe it either. Every time we try to roll out the dough it springs back into a small round. When we finally have it so we think something else goes wrong and our pizzas aren't anything close to the likes of our favorite neighborhood shop.
So when I bought the pizza dough I was a little bit hesitant. But I got it all the same. Then later in the week I picked up some toppings with every intention of making pizza. By Monday night we still had no pizza and we decided to just order some because we'd been craving it for days!
With pizza already out for dinner (since we just had it), I knew I had to come up with something to use this pizza dough. Tonight Joey had to work late so I didn't want to make anything to crazy-complicated for dinner. Plus, we really didn't have any food except the ingredients for pizza and canned goods.
As a result I decided on a light dinner of soup and breadsticks. I would make breadsticks with the pizza dough. Has anyone ever done this before I wondered? I went to my old friend google and searched for "pizza dough breadsticks" nearly the first post was a favorite blog of mine "Playing House" with a recipe for pizza dough breadsticks using TJs dough!
After following the directions and letting the dough rest it was too sticky to roll so I added some flour. Then I tried again. I had the same terrible rolling results as usual. Luckily breadsticks are forgiving! I rolled it to whatever I thought might be big enough, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled on some oregeno, garlic powder and a dash of salt. I also added a quick shred of Parmesan. I baked my whole-wheat sticks for 14 minutes and came up with a glorious warm side dish for my soup. So delicious! I highly recommend you skip the pizza next time and make these.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
The chicken was cooked perfectly though and had a nice light flavor--just not as much as I was imagining in my dreams.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Sure there are lots of products in the article that call out to me but the most significant is Cookie Butter. Cookie Butter?! My friend and I couldn't imagine how it couldn't be wonderful combining two things we love most--butter and cookies into one delicious spread.
I knew I had to have it. I don't like Trader Joe's. I go there and have to deal with tight parking lots, tight aisles and can never find anything I want with their crazy store organization. But I was resigned to give it a try anyway because I couldn't pass up a chance to try the famed Cookie Butter. I went there after work and actually discovered a store with more than one open space in the parking lot and rather roomy aisles. Hurrah!
As I was driving home after buying what one can only refer to as a grocery bag of the before-dinner munchies, my aforementioned friend texted me with a message that the cookie butter is amazing. She encouraged me to crack the jar in the car. Sadly it was stuffed in the back seat amongst boxes of un-needed snacks near the bottom of the bag. I counted down the minutes to the garage and rushed upstairs to prepare dinner and sample the butter.
Glorious! The texture of peanut butter the flavor of gingersnaps with a tiny bit of crunch from the smashed up cookies. This butter is terrible for you with 9g of fat per every 1 T but it would be delicious in a myriad of holiday sweets. For instance just today I saw a recipe for chocolate cookies stuffed with peanut butter--but they would be great with Cookie Butter instead. Or spread on toast with maybe a tiny dash of sea salt. Or spread onto cupcakes as a frosting.
Will I eat the whole jar without making a recipe? Doubtful. Could I? Very possibly. But I'll share instead!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I chose a recipe from the Epicurious Iphone App while at the store and then found I pretty much had all the ingredients already. On a whole, the only things I had to pay for at this time for this meal was the ground beef and the peas. I bought Organic beef that was vegetarian fed because it came in a smaller package, I didn't think there was much of a taste difference if that's something you have always been wondering but were too afraid to try (I have). This took about an hour to prepare from the chopping to the baking but I don't know why, I felt like I got home and dinner would be on the table in minutes but I guess I dilly-dallied more than I thought.
Ingredients (I changed the recipe to have less meat because I knew I had less potatoes but I kept the spices and liquid the same)
1 T canola oil (or similar)
1/2 one small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced (I don't peel carrots anymore, I can't taste the difference)
0.6lbs of lean ground beef (this would be good with lamb which the original recipe called for or even turkey)
6 T frozen peas
1 C+ leftover mashed potatoes, or make your own, or buy some already made
1 T tomato paste (I recently bought a tube of paste because recipes are always calling for too little of the can to keep around, it's really handy even though it initially seems like a bad value)
1 Cup broth (I used vegetable)
1 t Rosemary, crushed a little (I used dry)
1 clove garlic smashed
1/2 t Oregano (I used dry)
Salt & Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. In a large skillet brown beef, onion and carrot over medium high heat--about ten minutes
3. When the meat has browned, drain and return to pan.
4. Add all other ingredients EXCEPT the peas
5. Bring to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes until mixture has thickened slightly (honestly my mixture didn't really thicken but I still removed it after 10 minutes
6. Divide mixture between two individual oven-proof dishes. Add 3 T peas (straight from the freezer is fine) to each dish
7. Top the dishes with leftover potatoes and try to cover as much surface as possible, as you can see I was a little short on potatoes but it still tasted good
8. Bake dishes at 375 for 30-35 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown on top
9. Dishes will be very hot right out of the oven. If you can wait, hold off 5 minutes before eating.
Monday, November 21, 2011
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 4 cups)
2 large pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
1 cup dried cherries (about 6 ounces)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1. Blend powdered sugar, almonds, and salt in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in egg yolk. Add flour. Using on/off turns, blend until dough comes together in clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
2. Roll out chilled dough and place in a buttered pie plate. Poke holes all over with a fork. Freeze for 5 minutes. Cover crust in buttered foil and weigh down with dried beans. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans and bake 10 minutes longer until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
2. Using fingertips, mix butter, brown sugar, lemon peel, remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl until moist clumps form. (this is the best playdoh!)
3. Crumble the topping over the fruit and try to cover it completely but don't pack it down.
4. Heat the oven to 350. Bake about 1 hour until fruit bubbles and topping starts to brown. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving to help thicken the juices. If you don't want to wait taste the juices after you cut your first slice..best cider in the world
Sunday, November 20, 2011
This is one of those birthday parties where kids & imagination reign. It was a cardboard box city on a whole new level. The idea was a construction/building party--it came together to be one of the most cost effective parties of all time and the kids loved it.
From the people who bring you Ignite Creative Learning Studio, a studio that embraces creativity and imagination in extracurricular academic classes, learn how to build the perfect construction party for your child's next party!
Materials (it looks like a lot but it's not so bad):
1 for every 2 kids large appliance boxes (we had 5)
Lots of assorted smaller boxes of all sizes
Your recycling; egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, soap boxes, shoe boxes, paper towel rolls, plastic tubs from cookies and things
Sidewalk Chalk for little hands
Washable paint in several colors
Paint roller pans
Paint rollers and brushes (smaller rollers for kids)
An exacto knife for an adult
Wood working center with wood pieces and an adult handyman and some special tools
Ride-ons that don't require helmets (have kids bring their own!)
Gold coins or pennies
Favors (1 per kid): - Label them with their names so everyone is sure to get one of each thing
Toolbelts (cheaper at Home Depot than Loews and you may be able to get them for free)
cut pieces of wood
sand paper squares
plastic hard hats
miniature tape measures
2 kinds of savory snacks like popcorn and veggie sticks
water, milk and or juice
1. Cut doors and windows in the boxes with an exacto knife. If you want, you can label some of them like General Store, Snack Shack, and Bank. The Bank played a part in our story so we needed to make sure it was there.
2. Get all your supplies together and set them aside for easy access
3. Start collecting interesting pieces of recycling and store in a safe place
4. On the day of the party, draw lines on your driveway or sidewalk for the ride on drivers. Put in crosswalks, two lanes and different signs like "dead end" for the end of the driveway and "one way." Kids can help with this!
5. Setup the large boxes around the yard or driveway, remember, kids will be painting on these boxes so if you are worried about paint on the driveway you may want to put old sheets under them or something or extra cardboard
6. Put the assorted boxes, recycling and markers in an accessible area and label it as Building Supplies
7. Put the screwdrivers, tape measures and electrical tape in one of the large boxes and call it the general store. If you have a cash register set it up nearby--adults can run the store but only kids can fit inside--if you have some kind of side opening it works well for adults to crawl in and find the tools with their name
8. Setup paint trays and rollers next to the large boxes and fill with paint colors right before the kids arrive or as they do
9. In the back yard or a neighbors (get permission first!) setup a coin hunt. Hide coins at kid height in both harder and easier places. Concoct a story for later about a bank robbery (Our story was that there was a bank robbery in town but when he ran away through the back yard there was a hole in his bags and he dropped coins all over--who could find them?)
The Arrival & The Party:
1. As kids arrive, have a grownup at the front welcoming them (as workers) and giving them their supplies along with five coins with which to buy their tools at the general store and snacks at the snack shack (tell them how to use their coins). Tell them about the town and the rules (really there are no rules but you can give suggestions about driving around or painting the buildings. If they seem nervous and there's not a big crowd give them a tour.
2. Have another adult stationed at the General Store to help with the purchasing of their tools
3. Let the kids do their thing, if they seem like they don't know what to do offer suggestions. Try to get the braver kids to the woodshop area if possible
3a. The adults should carry safety scissors and a few other special materials (in their toolbelts!) in case the kids need something extra
3b. Have paper and pens available in case kids have another idea of what they need to make their town perfect
4. Midway through the party open up the snack shack and put an adult there to "sell the snacks" 1 coin for each bowl--some savvy kids may buy more than two snacks by dipping into the cash register...
5. Later in the party, when you are seeing a lull or just before you want to break for cake & presents, announce the robbery (at our party, some kids were building a police station so we got them involved in the robbery and had them announce it). While the kids run around looking for coins setup the cake and move on to that.
6. At the end kids can use coins they found in the hunt to buy other favors if you have any others that you'd like to.
7. Let the kids play in the town a bit more until they have to leave
- The Coin hunt was fun for us to work the story into the party but it was not necessary. These kids did not bore of the cardboard box town and riding on the roads
- The paint was a huge hit, if we had more rollers and colors it might have been nice. People also wanted to paint their creations at the woodshop
- If you don't have a handyman in the family you could buy a few pre-made kits for woodworking and have those on hand to build or put together or you could skip this part altogether--although it was a big hit
- The trick is to be hands off but filled with ideas. If someone asks for help or looks bored you can point them in the right direction
- If someone wants new materials and you don't have them try to suggest something similar--or run in the house to find them
Friday, November 18, 2011
Finally after weeks of begging she decided that we could indeed have a dirt cake as long as there was also some regular cupcakes for people who might be scared to eat dirt, worms and ooey gooey pudding mixture. Those people are missing out.
I basically followed the recipe over on Baked Bree. Aunt Kathy's traditional recipe calls for vanilla pudding but when I saw Bree incorporating chocolate pudding instead (indecently those pudding boxes from trader joe's are awesome looking) I knew that that was for me. Bree also used real homemade whipped cream which, I think is probably a great idea! However, I took the escape route and went for good old Cool Whip. 12 oz of Cool Whip is the replacement. I also chose to just fill up a regular 9x13 (actually this pan is bigger for lasagna) dish instead of flowerpots cause this is a party for boys. I got two types of gummy worms--the regular and the neon. Personally, I think the neon ones are delicious but the regular ones look rather cool slithering through the dirt and you can hide them more like real worms. I hope these kids aren't too grossed out to try it!
I'll be serving the cake in these small, clear "crystal" style plastic cups. I bought forks to eat with although spoons probably would've been the better option...oh well forks it is.
Let's Eat Dirt!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Whisk together cream, pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, and spices in a bowl.
Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
If you like your spaghetti sauce with ground meat in it you'll find this is a little strange. If you're one of those people who has your own meat grinder though; you could potentially grind your chuck. Or you could just use ground beef or sausage if you're trying to use up your beef. The sauce turned out pretty good for simmering away in the crock pot all day--passable for leftovers.
The dish is more like an Italian strogonoff except without mushrooms. The fresh beet fettuccine I used also played off the strogonoff feel by tasting a lot more like egg noodles than bold pasta flavor.
So the age old question - Can you make spaghetti sauce in the crockpot? has been answered. Yes.
Oh and did I mention that I cheated even in the actual making? This a true set it and forget it meal.
1 jar (20oz) favorite marinara pasta sauce
1 lb chuck roast, cubed
1 Can whole tomatoes in juice, torn into pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed and separated into pieces
1t crushed red pepper
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning
1 t tomato paste
pasta, for serving
1. Combine all ingredients except pasta in the slow cooker.
2. Set cooker for 8-9 hours on low (I did 9 and it warmed for 3 and then shut off).
3. Around the end of the cook time, boil water and cook pasta
4. Serve with pasta
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Makes 24 pineapple cakes.
2½ cups cake flour
⅛ teaspoon. baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons nonfat milk powder, passed through a fine mesh sieve
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup shortening
½ cup confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks
1 recipe Pineapple Paste (recipe follows)
- Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and milk powder together in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Place the butter, shortening and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks and beat on medium-low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
- Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed. Add the remaining flour and beat until all of the flour has been absorbed, 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat 1 minute. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces and roll each piece into a 10-inch log. Wrap each log tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
- Cut each log into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Use a tablespoon measure to divide the pineapple paste into 24 evenly sized 1-tablespoon balls.
- Place a dough ball in the palm of your hand and flatten into a disk. Place a pineapple paste ball in the center of the disk, bring the edges up together and pinch shut. Roll between the palms of your hands until the seams are no longer visible. Press into 1¾-inch-wide square pineapple cake molds or gently shape into squares by hand.
- Place the pineapple cakes 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, turning the cakes over once and rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool 10 minutes before transferring the cakes to the racks to cool completely.
Makes 1½ cups pineapple paste
This pineapple paste is more intensely pineapple-y than the filling in commercial pineapple cakes. If a milder flavor is desired, reduce the amount of pineapple and increase the amount of diced winter melon by the same amount. Winter melon and maltose syrup can be found in most large Asian markets.
¾ cup granulated sugar
- Place the pineapple in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until pureed, stopping and scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, 18 to 20 pulses. Pour into a Dutch oven.
- Place the winter melon in the food processor and pulse until very finely shredded, 20 to 22 pulses. Transfer to the Dutch oven.
- Cook the combined mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the winter melon begins turning translucent, about 20 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the sugar, and cook until the mixture has thickened, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in the maltose syrup and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, sticky, and uniformly light amber in color, 10 to 12 minutes.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Again being short on time I baked our potatoes in the microwave. Our microwave has a handy baked potato setting! I used it and it took about 11 minutes to bake our two giant potatoes. Meanwhile, I heated the chili in a pot on the stove and shredded a little sharp cheddar. Dinner was ready in 12 minutes and we were on our way to a relaxing Friday night at home.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
My stir fry recipe is sort of throw together and make it up dish that I don't really revise much at all in the sauce but totally change in the ingredients. I started making stir fry in Austria when I was not yet a real cook and didn't have all the choices of ingredients that I do here--this version is a lot better but I can't necessary advertise my sauce as mainstream. But I love it!
Friday, September 23, 2011
This recipe is from Martha Stewart's blog. I completely followed the recipe although I didn't do the rue quite right and didn't get as thick of a sauce as I wanted. You should serve these with beans and salsa. I didn't serve them with beans but I thought it would've been a good idea, I served them with bok choy, wrong ethnicity? Yes. Good vegetable choice? Passable.
I really liked the chicken enchiladas. I mean they certainly aren't traditional in any sense, but they have a nice taste, moist chicken and a satisfying belly-feel after only two enchiladas. They are also a possible make-after-work dinner. I revised the recipe only slightly with spices, recipe reposted below so you don't have to navigate through M.S. yourself.