Monday, December 9, 2013

Duchess Potatoes

There are a lot of meals I make that would taste good over potatoes. But making potatoes on a week night is not usually an option. Baked and mashed potatoes take too much time and even crispy roasted can take 40 minutes. After my commute, I'm not usually dreaming about cooking potatoes.  Recently, I saw on Everyday Food a recipe for portion-sized make ahead mashed potatoes. Sold!  These potatoes are slightly richer than mashed potatoes and can be used even for a big event. I just spooned my duchesses onto a pan but I bet they'd be beautiful piped onto the pan!

I froze these right away and then baked two stacks to go along with my cherry pork. It took exactly 15 minutes and they were absolutely fantastic. I did not put an egg wash on at baking and I did not miss it. I love having these on hand. The recipe makes 8 stacks but it could easily be doubled.

Duchess Potatoes
2 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes
salt & pepper
3 T cold unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1/4 C heavy cream
pinch of nutmeg

1. Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch pieces. Cover the potatoes in a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until tender about 15 minutes. Drain, let sit 5 minutes and return to pan.
2. Add butter and mash together with a potato masher until smooth. Season with salt
3. Add cream and stir with a spoon to combine. Add egg yolks and stir in.
4. Mound potatoes in 8 mounds on a buttered and parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Make a well in the center of each mound for gravy with the back of a spoon
5. Freeze at least 15 minutes, then bake. Or Freeze 15 minutes until solid. Add potato mounds to a gallon-sized ziploc bag and keep in the freezer.
6. To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray a baking sheet with cookie spray. Space potato mounds on the sheet and bake 15 minutes straight from the freezer. Serve.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pork with Cherry Sauce

I like watching Everyday Food videos with Sarah Carey whenever I can. I love meals that are 30 minutes are less but still delicious and easy to make. THIS meal is one of those things. The cherry sauce was pretty good I thought but Joey found it too sweet. The pork had a nice crispy outside which made it extra delicious. The recipe calls to be served over polenta but I chose duchess potatoes (recipe coming soon!). I thought this was a delicious meal and quick and easy. It could also impress your guests instead.

1lb pork tenderloin
1/4 C flour
3 T olive oil
salt & pepper
1/4 C red wine
1/4 C chicken broth
12oz frozen cherries, defrosted
2 t fresh grated ginger
2 shallots, thinly sliced
polenta or duchess potatoes for serving

1. Pound tenderloin to flatten and then cut into four equal pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge pork in flour and shake off excess.
2. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove pork to plate and tent with foil.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Add shallots and cook 4-5 min or until softened. Add wine & broth and cook stirring until reduced by half about 3 minutes.
4. Add cherries and ginger and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Smash some cherries with the back of a spoon and leave others whole.
5. Add pork and juices back into the pan and cook about 2 minutes until everything blends together. Server pork and sauce over polenta or potatoes

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Warm Brussel Sprout and Chickpea Salad

I went to a wedding last weekend and discovered that I really like brussel sprouts. Then, I went to my favorite grocery store and found they were selling brussel sprout totes which I think are awesome. If you aren't familiar, a vegetable tote is a pre-determined amount of one type of vegetable housed in a handy clear tote bag! Sounds lame? Well it's not! It's cute and it comes in it's own bag and you don't have to weigh it!

I saw this salad on Beantown Baker and revised it just a tad but it was fantastic! If you are a vegetarian or you can't eat nuts you could omit both of those ingredients and this would still be delicious. If you had any shallots or garlic it may be a nice addition.

I used the food processor to shred the brussel sprouts and what a time saver that is! You could also use the food processor for the shallots if you used them and the mushrooms.  Don't have a food processor? Fine, cut it by hand but don't skip the recipe just because you have to do some cutting.

Warm Brussel Sprout Salad
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, divided
1 t olive oil
cayenne pepper
3 T butter
1lb brussel sprouts, sliced or shredded (food processor!)
8oz white mushrooms, washed and sliced (food processor!)
1/4 C pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
freshly ground pepper
1/2 C cooked ham or 4 slices bacon cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Drain and dry one can of chickpeas. Place on a sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes in the oven. Toss in 1 tsp olive oil, salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Roast for an additional 15 minutes. Then turn off the open, open it up a crack and let the pan sit until you need them
3. Using your food processor, shred the brussel sprouts and slice the mushrooms
4. In a large skillet or small dutch oven, heat 2 T butter over medium heat.
5. When butter is melted, add mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally
6. Add sprouts and a dash of salt and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring. Don't worry, the sprouts will shrink.
7. Add the pecans, ham, nutmeg, raw chickpeas, and more salt and pepper to taste
8. Cook 3-4 minutes until ingredients are melded. Toss in roasted chickpeas to individual servings so they don't get soggy and serve warm.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice-Baked potatoes are one of those foods that sound delicious and comforting but also seem to be a lot of work. People only seem to make them for holidays!  We decided to change all people's ever traditions and make them on a regular Saturday night!  These potatoes weren't actually as hard as expected. So maybe the reason people save them for holidays is actually because they aren't very healthy! The only snags we had were keeping the potato shells together, but nothing a little edge of the pan couldn't help with!

If you are interested in wowing your friends and family with a fun side then you should make these twice baked potatoes!

My father in law raved about these potatoes and said they wer one of the best he'd had in years. Why were these particular potatoes so good? We think it has to do with the 5-year aged sharp cheddar we used which helped make the potatoes not just cheesy but instead cheesy and flavorful.  So when you make these, use at least in part a really sharp cheddar.

This recipe serves 4 with a large half of cheesy yummy goodness. If you are serving to kids or other people with smaller appetites, you could easily have them share a single half.

Original Recipe, quartered.

2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and dried
4 T butter, cut into pats
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated, separated
1/4 C light sour cream
1/2 t salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 C crispy bacon bits
1 green onion, sliced
1 T canola oil + more salt, preferably kosher
1/8 C milk (you may not need this)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Rub the cleaned potatoes with oil and salt and poke all over with a fork. Place potatoes directly on the oven rack with a tray on the next shelf to catch drippings. Bake for 1 hour or slightly longer until potato is soft inside and outside is crispy.
3. Let sit until they are cool enough to handle.
4. Meanwhile, add butter, sour cream and bacon to a bowl.  Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out potato pulp leaving a small rim for stability. Add potato to the bowl.  Smash together with a potato masher or a fork.
5. Add 1/4 C cheese, green onions, salt & pepper and stir together. If your mixture is too stiff add up to 1/8 C milk
6. Scoop potato insides back into the potato shells and top with cheese
7. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes until warmed through and cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sauteed Chicken Sausage and Apples

I bet I have 15 different similar recipes on this blog of sauteed chicken sausage & apples because it is one of the fastest and most satisfying recipes in my repertoire and it is never exactly the same.  Today we took a field trip to Trader Joe's - a store we don't love as much as everyone else.  After browsing the rather crowded store (that they were stocking at the worst possible time!) we were still at a loss for dinner. I grabbed some sweet chicken & apple sausages and an apple and called it a day.

2 apple chicken sausages, sliced into coins
1 large apple, thinly sliced (the thinner you slice them the less time it takes)
1/8 t cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1 T olive oil
1/4 C apple cider

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausages and brown 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to plate.
2. Toss apples with cinnamon and nutmeg and add to the hot pan. Pour over cider (it may pop and splatter!)
3. Cook apples 10 minutes or until soft. Add sausage back in and toss together. Serve with bread on the side.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fastest Pumpkin Soup

Joey & I made his famous pumpkin cranberry scones again last weekend and we were again left with half a can of pumpkin.  What do you even do with leftover pumpkin? You certainly don't eat it by the spoonful, yuck!  So I searched the web and stumbled upon this list of 50 things to do with canned pumpkin on the Food Network!

Pumpkin soup seemed like a good idea, so I gave it my own twist and now I have soup for lunch and it took 5-10 minutes tops!

1 generous C canned pumpkin
3/4 C chicken broth
1/4 C apple cider + extra if needed
1/4 C cream
1/8 t cinnamon
1/8 t ginger
1/8 t nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
dash of salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a small pot and whisk on the medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
2. Let simmer 10 minutes
3. Serve.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Roasted Rack of Pork

At Sprouts on Saturday, I was intrigued by French cut rack of pork! I've never cooked French cut of anything but this seemed like the time to try it!  This roast was only $5 and was obviously enough for two so I bought it.  Roasting this was a breeze just like roasting always is and the result looks fancy, good for a crowd with a larger roast of course!

I didn't use fresh herbs because I didn't have them but I think that a nice herb-garlic paste would be delicious on this. Think chimichurri with rosemary, sage and oregano.  Next time that's what I'll do. This time I put some dried herbs and garlic on it and the flavor was nice but the stabs of rosemary into my gums was not.

I served this with roasted black grapes and asparagus. A new flavor profile? Maybe so.  Also this is a 5-ingredient recipe.

1 2-lb rack of pork
1 clove garlic
1 onion
salt, pepper and herbs of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Meanwhile cut some slits into the fat of the pork and push in slices of garlic
3. Try making a paste of herbs with garlic and salt. Salt and pepper the roast and then spread with your paste.
4. Roast 1 1/2 hours or until roast reaches 160
5. Let sit 5 minutes

Roasted Grapes & Asparagus:
1. Toss asparagus and a scant bit of olive oil and salt. Lay flat in a small pan
2. Slice grapes in half, or don't.
3. Place grapes & asparagus in the oven for 15-20 minutes

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mini Caramel Apples

 This past Sunday my parents were in town and we decided to visit the Hollywood Farmer's Market. This market is four streets large plus a spice alley and is always an adventure.  While there, I spotted some tiny apples and I just knew I had to get them. After tasting them--slightly tart, crispy, still sweet, I bought the bag.  I already knew I wanted to make mini caramel apples with them, I just had to navigate the timing of the day.

These caramel apples took no time at all! When looking for recipes lots of people complained that caramel takes too long to make from scratch. But do you know what takes a long time? Unwrapping those caramel candies!  I hate those wrappers anyway, the grating sound of them, gross.  But what is really easy is making caramel! And the flavor difference is night and day.  My sister used to make caramels to give to people for gifts and this recipe was definitely the same (although I didn't know it at the time). This caramel just melts in your mouth and has that buttery touch of deliciousness.  I made 12 tiny caramel apples and halved the original recipe.

Original recipe, mine halved below. I had a little extra caramel but we weren't sad to eat it ;)

12 mini apples
3/8 + 1/8 cup heavy cream (divided)
3/8 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (I used salted)
1/2 t vanilla
chopped peanuts, optional
Special Equipment: Candy Thermometer, skewers or popsicle sticks

1. Wash and completely dry the apples. Chop nuts and place them in a flat bowl.
2. Poke sticks (I used these cake pop variety) into the top part of the apple near the stem. Push hard to make sure it is sturdy
3. Prepare a sheet pan lined with wax paper or parchment paper or a silicon mat.
4. In a heavy bottomed small pot (actually I just used a small pot), attach a candy themometer to the edge and combine butter, syrup, sugar and 3/8 C heavy cream over high heat.
5. Boil until temperature reaches 246 degrees, firm ball stage and remove from heat. Caramel will be golden, don't step away this hardly takes any time at all.
6. Stir in remaining 1/8 C heavy cream and vanilla. This will spurt and splatter, protect yourself!
7. Carefully dip apples and spoon caramel over. Let excess drip off, swirl into nuts if using and then place in the prepared pan. Work quickly because the caramel will start to get more solid and be harder to use.
8. Refrigerate and the caramel will harden so that it is easier to get it off the pan. Serve.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Apple Dutch Baby

For weeks I have been craving a dutch baby pancake. The crazy thing is that I'm not sure I've ever had a dutch baby before. It's just that one of my favorite bloggers posted one months ago (a year?!) and I've been thinking of it ever since.

Then, pouring salt in my wounds, my sister-in-law described a dutch baby she made just two weeks ago! I knew it was fate and I must make this pancake.  As luck would have it, we went apple picking yesterday so I have a plethora of apples in which to use for this.

The other lucky thing is that the dutch baby doesn't call for anything special, just eggs, flour, sugar, milk--no fancy buttermilk, no special sugars, not too hard, ready quickly.  A perfect breakfast!

The only thing I changed from this recipe of Spinach Tiger was using Penskey's Baking spice instead of cinnamon.  Why ruin something simple with more spices than just cinnamon you ask? Well...we're out of cinnamon, obviously we have to fix that situation before we do any more with our apples but on this early morning I wasn't about to go to the store first!  I'm glad to report that the baking spice was also delicious and the warming smells of baked apples filled the house as expected.

The results were a bit eggy--custardy but eggy. I think this means I maybe should havve cooked it a bit more but then again, it was golden...the best part was the caramelized edges and I think I could have thrown in one more apple at the beginning.

Recipe from Spinach Tiger

2 apples
4 T butter
2 t baking spice or cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
4 eggs
1 C flour
1 C milk
1/4 C brown sugar
1 t vanilla
Powdered sugar for serving

Apple Dutch Baby
1. Preheat the oven to 450
2. Peel and thinly slice two apples
3. In an oven-proof frying pan melt 4 T butter (woah) over medium heat
4. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Melt and Add apples.
5. Saute 5 minutes or until apples are soft
6. Stash the pan in the oven until the batter is ready
7. Stir together eggs & flour until smooth. Add milk & vanilla. The mixture will be very runny.
8. Remove frying pan from the oven, pour batter on top of the apples, place back in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown
9. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar and serve

Sunday, September 8, 2013

S'mores Ice Cream

Earlier this summer, I found a recipe for s'mores ice cream and I knew I had to make it. I immediately went out and bought all the ingredients. And then summer happened. And this weekend, when it was reaching over 107, I decided it was time to turn on the broiler and make some ice cream.

The original recipe is not that informative. It gives measurements but is a bit vague about the instructions. If you don't make egg-based custards all the time you might not know how to follow this recipe. Also, the measurements for the mix-ins were way off for me (we have so many extras!)

I haven't tasted the ice cream yet, but I've eaten the mix-ins dipped in the churned melty leftovers and it's fantastic! I can't wait to eat the ice cream when it's frozen and fully mixed.

6 graham cracker sheets
3 C mini mashmallows
6 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 C half & half
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

1. Whisk together egg yolks and half and half until combined, set aside
1A. Prepare an ice bath, take a really big bowl and fill it with ice and water, but not too high, you will be adding another bowl or your pan on top and you don't want it to overflow all over your counter (trust me.)
2. Turn on the broiler. Place 2 cups of marshmallows in one layer in an oven-safe saute or frying pan with slightly higher sides.
3. Broil 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. DO NOT WALK AWAY OR YOU WILL START A FIRE. Watch the marshmallows occasionally opening the oven to see how brown they are. It's okay for a few to get burned but most should be mid-to dark brown
4. Remove from the broiler, turn off the broiler, add heavy cream to the marshmallows and whisk over medium-high heat until all the marshmallows are melted. Do not let it boil, if it starts to look like it's going to boil turn down the heat.
5. Pour a little of the hat marsrhmallow cream into the egg mixture. Whisk vigorously! Pour a little more hot marshmallow cream in. Whisk vigorously!!
6. Pour all the tempered egg mixture into the pan with the hot marshmallow cream. Whisk vigorously! Whisk 3-4 minutes or until you dip a wooden spoon into the custard and then you run your finger over the spoon and a line stays in the custard.
7. Remove the pot from heat and place in the ice bath. If it's too big, transfer custard to another bowl and place into the ice bath.  Whisk until cool, or let cool to room temperature without excessive mixing.
8. Once cool, stir in vanilla and then pour into a tupperware and refrigerate several hours or overnight
9. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 3 graham crackers on the sheet. Cover with 1 cup of mini marshmallows.
10. Melt chocolate in the microwave 1-1 1/2 minutes on half power. Stir and microwave 30 more seconds on half power until fully melted
11. Turn on the broiler. Broil 1-2 minutes until marshmallows are golden, DO NOT WALK AWAY OR YOU WILL START A FIRE. Open the oven occasionally to watch.
12. Remove the pan from the broiler, turn off the broiler. Immediately top marshmallows with 3 remaining graham cracker sheets. Spread melted chocolate over the top. Freeze on the cookie sheet until set.
13. Chop frozen s'mores into 1 inch or smaller pieces, eat some, freeze in a ziploc bag.
14. Later, churn your ice cream according to manufacturers instructions. Pour churned ice cream into ice cream container and mix with frozen s'mores pieces. Freeze until set.

Note. The frozen s'mores pieces are really tasty. If you happen to make a little too many, don't feel sad. This could be your favorite new summer snack!

Note 2: We think that some graham cracker crumbs and chocolate shavings might be delicious in addition to the larger pieces of s'mores--but this is before tasting it.  Can't wait to taste it!

Note 3: We tasted it, and it's good but rich. I might consider using classic milk chocolate for this recipe and having smaller bits. Still delicious though. And rich.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Chimichurri Bruschetta

Each Thursday this summer I have joined my coworkers at the beach to listen to the free concerts and generally hang out.  Sometimes, I make food and sometimes I don't. This last week was a big event though. We decided to have a bruschetta buffet and my coworker Mey and I cooked for them.

Bruschetta is a great appetizer idea that keeps you relatively full because you eat it on bread. Our spread had 5 different kinds of bruschetta--Sunset Peach, Traditional, Olive Tapenade, Strawberry Caprese, and of course, roasted pepper and tomato chimichurri.  We served all this on little toast crackers, wheat thins and small slices of hearty bread.

There were a couple of tomato-haters at our picnic and even they liked this bruschetta because it was so flavorful you hardly noticed the tomatoes.

2 bunches cilantro
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T olive oil
1t hot pepper flakes, divided
2 bell peppers (I used orange)
3 medium yellow tomatoes
1/2 C cherry tomatoes, halved

1. If you have a gas stove, turn on the burner and place peppers directly on the burner. Roast about 10 minutes, turning with tongs until each side is charred. Be sure to watch these a little so they don't set on fire.
2. Meanwhile, chop tomatoes into bite sized pieces
3. When the peppers are done, place them in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit 5 minutes. The steam will make the skin easy to peel off
4. Use a paper towel and your fingers to peel peppers, remove stems and seeds and cut into pieces about the same size as the tomatoes
5. Make the chimichurri - In a small chopper (if you use this, do two batches) or food processor combine cilantro (you can use stems and leaves or just leaves here--I used just the tops), garlic, olive oil and salt to taste. Blend until a paste forms.
6. Stir chimichurri with peppers and tomatoes and let it chill until ready to serve--or you can serve it right away.
*I found that there were lots of juices from the tomatoes which I drained off before refrigerating

Saturday, July 6, 2013

S'mores Pie

I love s'mores and I have been really wanting to make s'mores ice cream but by the time I got up on this holiday there wasn't enough time to get going on the ice cream and have it ready for dinner. So I browsed for different options around the web.  I found this take on s'mores which uses a graham cracker crust, brownies and toasted marshmallows.  This dessert was incredibly rich and I thought delicious, although, I sort of wish I had it right out of the oven instead of at room temperature.

If you like brownies, you should try this recipe without all the additions because these brownies were fast, one bowl and super easy.

If you make this...consider using regular unsweetened cocoa vs. dutch process (woah, dark chocolate)

If you make this...consider serving it hot!

If you make this...don't leave while the broiler is on and watch those marshmallows like a hawk. Once they start to get brown pull it out.

If you make this...make your own graham cracker crust.

Here's the recipe for when you make this...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Egg Sandwiches made at home are better

Last weekend we wanted to have some breakfast and we really had very little. So I made an egg sandwich with ham, egg, cheese and English muffins. It was fantastic.  Now that I have a favorite sandwich, I made something similar for lunch on Wednesday when I had bookend meetings to the lunch hour.  This time I omitted the cheese and added avocado.  Pure deliciousness.

This is the easiest thing to make and it takes hardly any time at all. By the time your muffin is toasted the egg is done!

1/2 small avocado
1 slice ham off the bone
1 egg
1 whole wheat English muffin

1. Preheat pan to medium.  Break an egg into a bowl and then slide into the hot pan. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Fry the egg a few minutes until the white is opaque and the yellow looks slightly done. Be careful not to break the egg yolk on the transfer.
2. Toast the English muffin in the toaster or on the side of the pan.
3. Add ham to pan and heat til warm
4. Spread butter on the muffin, add ham, egg and avocado
5. Eat immediately and watch out for the egg which will break

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer Stone Fruit Tart

Joey loves apricots and peaches and plums but is unfortunately allergic to them in their raw state. So, when summer comes around and stone fruit is all the rage, I do everything I can to get some on his plate. Last week, I grilled a peach--it was interesting but I didn't flavor it. Next time I would treat it more like a baked apple.

On Wednesday I worked from home and used that opportunity to  make a stone fruit tart with all the fruit that was a tiny bit overripe and waiting for me to eat.

I started off the morning making a simple quick easy tart dough recipe that I found on Williams Sonoma. I changed it a little so it tasted a little bit like almond--a favorite flavor at our house. This recipe didn't come together as easily as I had hoped and was a real bear to roll out in the evening but the taste was use at your own risk!

For the filling, I reviewed another recipe and used a mixture of plums, apricots and peaches mixed with a bit of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice.  I used the excess juices from the fruit to glaze the tart.  Because the dough was hard to work with the tart definitely dripped all over the pan but it was still really delicious. Still good the second day.

Summer Stone Fruit Tart

Crust adapted from here
1 egg yolk
2-4 T ice water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 T almond meal
1 1/4 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1/4 t salt
8 T butter cubed and cold

1. In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl mix together the egg, 2 T water and extracts.
2. Combine together the dry and wet ingredients in the large bowl and then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter to form small pea meal.  IF it seems to dry gradually add a little bit more water at a time.
3. Just as the dough comes together, form into a ball and then flatten inside plastic wrap.  Chill for 3 hours at minimum.

8-10 small apricots, sliced into wedges
2 peaches, sliced into wedges
1 plum, sliced into wedges
1/4 C sugar (or less)
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 lemon, juiced
2 T cornstarch

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and lightly toss about 10 minutes before baking.

The Combination
1. Roll out the dough between two sheets of well-flowered parchment into around a 12-inch circle. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.
2.  Preheat the oven to 325
3. Remove the top sheet of parchment. Mound fruit in the center leaving at least two inches of dough around the sides, avoid adding excess juices
4. Brush the fruit and crust with some of the excess juice
5. Bake 30 minutes, brush with juice, bake 30 more minutes, brush with juice.
6. Let cool 10-15 minutes before even considering cutting into it.  Serve warm or cold, still good the next day!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Classic Yellow Vanilla Birthday Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Yesterday was my niece Alice's 1st birthday.  I offered to make the cake and then through a series of events suddenly had a supreme lack of time and ended up having exactly 3 1/2 hours to make cake for 40 + from scratch.  In case you are wondering this IS possible but it makes for not much time for artistic possibilities. The end results were definitely a little messy at first and then after sitting in a room with the same 40+ people through dinner a little messier still (and a bit melty) but it worked out.  The cake was good but a tiny bit dry if you didn't have much frosting--which if you got a middle piece you didn't because we were a bit low on frosting.

If you make this recipe combination, you should consider making more frosting--maybe two batches for each 1 cake recipe.  If you are making this cake recipe, you should consider separating it into 3 9-inch cake pans and make 3 layers because these layers nearly overflowed.  If you are making cupcakes have another pan ready because this cake recipe makes 24 cupcakes + 16 minis with a little overflow!

I made Smitten Kitchen's Yellow Cake recipe.  The only thing I changed was that I used 1/2 C milk in place of 1/2 C of the buttermilk in the cupcakes because I ran out of buttermilk.  I loved how she noted that the batter would look curdled at one point because it sure did and that's not what you expect of cake batter!  This batter is so thick, much thicker than box mix cake batter.  Again, this made more cake than I expected and I think if you wanted thinner, flatter layers you could easily separate this among three cake pans.  This also made more than 24 cupcakes. This batter continued to overflow in every place even though I didn't feel like I was over-filling anything.  FYI cupcakes take about 20 minutes to bake. Mini cupcakes take about 5-9.

Here's her cake recipe

For the frosting, I looked at 6 different recipes, one used simple syrup and egg whites. In the end though, due to lack of time to try something new, I used The Food Network's simple vanilla frosting. This is pretty much the first time I've successfully made frosting.  You know what the trick is?   Letting the mixer do all the work for ALL the minutes.  This recipe takes like 5 minutes total to make but the key is to actually let it mix for 3 whole minutes. It transforms the butter and sugar! It was amazing. And, shocker of shockers it tasted good too.

Here's the frosting recipe.

I also made this frosting 3 shades of purple and then pink and teal. I used gel food coloring. Gel food coloring is pretty easy to use and it makes these great vibrant colors. With gel food coloring definitely start with a little and add later.  To pipe two different colors of frosting, put one color on one side of the bag and one color on the other side of the bag and it makes a swirl.  To frost your cake in ombre style which we attempted, watch Sweetapolita do it and then try really hard to match helps if it is not 80+ degrees and you have a turntable and maybe you already did a crumb coat. We had neither but it still looked nice until it started melting.  As you can see we topped our cake with pinwheels made by Jenny.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Leek Scapes, not as asdvertised

Have you seen these at the Farmer's market lately? I was drawn to them as I picked up some tomatoes and berries at the Wednesday market in Santa Monica.  These are leek scapes.  They are not unlike garlic scapes in that they taste like leeks but not as strong.  These are the flower stalks that leek plants produce in the spring/early summer before going back to being leeks.

When I got my leek scapes they looked just like this but by the time we ate them on Friday the flower's at the top had bloomed, little bits of very onion-flavored flowers burst out in starbursts.  (where's the picture? I know, sorry). The farmer said I could cook these like I would asparagus. The internet said the same thing.  The farmer told me I can also eat the flowers.

I sauteed a bit of the flowers in some olive oil and then added 1 inch pieces of the scapes. Unfortunately, many of them were really woody and the ones that weren't tasted nothing like asparagus. I added some sugar..and they were okay-slightly sweet but I couldn't eat the whole bunch and  nothing I would pick up again.  Have you tried a vegetable you've never had before lately?

Friday, May 31, 2013

15? Minute Fresh Tomato Sauce

Here in Southern California the first summer heirloom tomatoes are lining the tables at the farmer's market. For me, it's hard to imagine using canned tomatoes for something during tomato season. So to use the freshest ingredients for our homemade pasta, I searched recipes from the internet for pasta sauce I could make from the freshest tomatoes.

I found this sauce to be delicious, it took a bit longer than 15 minutes, but do you know what is a great way to relieve a week of stress? Squeezing the seeds and juice out of warm tomatoes right into the sink with your bare hands.  How rewarding! Joey didn't love the sauce at all--he found it boring, he found it "tomatoey".  Pity. If you don't like tomatoes like my husband, then you should not make this sauce. If you do--try it tonight and use red & yellow tomatoes to make this pretty orange color!

We had this sauce on top of our previously frozen fresh homemade pasta. The pasta comes out of the freezer without defrosting and is ready in 3-4 minutes. It still tastes better than dried pasta but closer to store-bought fresh pasta out of the freezer.

slightly adapted from here.

2 lbs + tomatoes of any kind
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 leaves basil, chopped
2 t olive oil
1 t salt + more to taste 1 t pizza or Italian spices
dash of white balsamic vinegar (optional)
pasta & cheese for serving

1. Boil a large pot of water
2. Score an X on tomato bottoms. Add tomatoes to the water, cook for 2 minutes, remove with a pasta spoon and let sit in a bowl 5 minutes to cool.
3. Peel the tomatoes and discard the peels.  Squeeze the extra juice and seeds into the sink. Really get your hands dirty
4. Toss pulp with salt and spices in a bowl
5. Heat oil in a large saute pan, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds
6. Add the tomatoes and cook 2 minutes. Strain the pulp into a bowl and let the juices boil 2-3 minutes until thickened.
7. Puree the pulp with a hand blender and add it back in
8. Salt to taste, heat till heated through, serve over pasta with a little cheese and basil sprinkled on top

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rainbow Fruit Salad

Sometimes in the winter or even the spring, making a fruit salad proves to be a little harder than the summer. The only thing in season is citrus and supreming citrus to make it look pretty is time consuming.  So when I decided to make fruit salad for a party today, I popped over to the farmer's market and picked up whatever was available. Then Joey donated a mango and some kiwis to my cause and the result was a very rainbow salad--perfect for a gray spring day.

Oh you wanted a picture? Unfortunately I didn't take one and near the end it didn't look so delicious anymore...

Serves 10-12
2 Cara Cara oranges
4-5 small blood oranges
4 tangerines
5 kiwis
1 mango (probably 2 would be better)
1/2 pint small strawberries
1 cherimoya

1. Cut the ends off the citrus and then use a sharp knife to cut the sides off.  Cut the oranges into chunks avoiding the very center tough part. Toss into a bowl.
2. Peel and chop the kiwis
3. Cut the mango on each side of the hard pit in the center. Slice into cubes inside the mango skin and then cut around the edge. Use a really large spoon to scoop out the chunks.
4. Wash and drain the strawberries, cut off the greens and slice in half
5. Cut the cherimoya in half. Cut into chunks without the skin and watch out for the big seeds
6. Toss all the fruit together but add the strawberries and cherimoya on top so they don't get too smooshed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Slaw

There is nothing like cutting into a head of lettuce and then realizing it is cabbage.  But these minor mistakes sometimes make for great finds!  Today as I proceeded to make salad for Jenny & Gavin coming over I realized that the "lettuce" I had was cabbage (I got it in a produce box).  I could have just made kale salad at this point but instead I thought, I bet I can make some kind of citrus-vinaigrette slaw.  I browsed the web and didn't really find anything so I decided to make it up. In this case, the gamble payed off and this might be a salad I would make on purpose!

1/2 any crispy red apple (okay you can use green if you really must)
1/2 small head cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper
3 T chopped curly parsley
*I made wayyy too much dressing for this "half" recipe but just save it for tomorrow!
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 tangelo (it is tangerine and pommelo but it tasted really sweet)
2 T white balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 T honey

1. Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing, tasting as you go and then set aside.
2. Julienne the apple (cut into thin strips) & finely chop the parsley
3. Julienne and then dice the bell pepper, and cut the cabbage so it is in shreds (just cut the cabbage on an angle around the core.
4. Mix everything together in a bowl and serve.  Remember not to pour in all the dressing because you definitely made too much!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pork Loin with Roasted Root Vegetables

Last week I bought a 2-lb pork loin roast on sale. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but it seemed like a good purchase.  Then my crazy work schedule + Easter happened. Finally tonight I was able to make the loin.  Did you know that pork loin roast takes only about 20 minutes a pound to cook? That means you get more meat for the price and can cook it almost as quickly as pork tenderloin!  This meal took me 45 minutes from start to finish and used just 1 pan and 1 cutting board and 1 knife!

*If you don't like radishes, you should try roasting them! They taste sweeter and a little bit more like a turnip. My husband who does not eat radishes ate these radishes and only noticed that their coloring was different from the potatoes but was happy to have them mixed in.

1 2-lb pork loin roast
5 carrots, chopped into large chunks
1 bunch radishes, halved*
1 C small potatoes, halved
olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 450 and meanwhile prepare the vegetables
2. Salt and Pepper the pork loin all over and place fat-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Cut slits into the top of the pork and cut slices of garlic inside
3. Toss vegetables with a little olive oil and salt. Spread veg around the pork loin but not touching it
4. Roast for 40-45 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees
5. Slice and serve with vegetable medley

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Apricot Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin was on sale when I was at the store on Wednesday so I picked one up. The great thing about pork tenderloin is that it is just enough meat for a family of four or just two bigger eaters and leftovers for one.  Basically, it's not too many leftovers and it is quick to cook!

I didn't have a recipe in mind but when I got home I reviewed my bookmarks. I read one recipe on Martha Stewart that talked about making a mixture of dried apricots and scallions. The recipe had very mixed reviews but it sparked my creativity.

I finally got around to making the pork tenderloin tonight and made a twist on the apricot stuffing. It was great! This dish got an A from my husband and is definitely something I will make again! This takes just 25 minutes to put together!

1 pork tenderloin
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Turkish Dried Apricots, finely chopped*
2 T orange marmalade  (really any jam here, like maybe apricot)
pinch of sugar
salt & pepper
kitchen twine or those handy silicon bands

Preheat the oven to 450

1. Place a large frying pan over high heat and let it heat up. Salt & Pepper the pork. Add pork to the fying pan and brown 2 minutes per side until all sides are brown
2. Mix together apricots, marmalade, sugar, and garlic
3. Cut a slit lengthwise in the pork not all the way through but enough of a pocket to hold the apricots
4. Stuff the apricot mixture inside the slit and tie in 4 places with kitchen twine. If some of the apricot mixture falls out just stuff it back in.
5. Place the pork apricot side up on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 20 minutes or until it reaches 165 degrees.
6. Cut into medallions using your ties as guides.

*If you don't use Turkish apricots they may not cook down as nicely. If you want to use the regular kind you may want to re-hydrate them a little before using.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Homemade Buttermilk Bread

 When we were at Epcot in February I had this delicious ham sandwich in France.  It was just ham, butter and cheese on a very fresh baguette. It was fantastic. I recall it as one of my favorite meals while there.  Ever since we returned I have been craving a similar ham sandwich.  So today, since I was at home I decided to make some bread.  The thing about bread is that it's like 10-15 minutes of hands on time and hours of hands off time. Perfect when you are working from home!

This bread uses buttermilk and that is primarily the reason I chose to make it--because I already had buttermilk!  The bread may not have worked exactly how it was intended to work because it was really dense and a little spongy possibly because of the Pam I sprayed on the pan and bowl a little bit greasy. Regardless it was a really hearty dinner! It is fun to make bread and then use it right away!  I recommend it. And if you are lucky, your yeast might be more active than my yeast.

I used this recipe. But with my perpetual fear of other blogs going away I am reposting it here.

1/4 C water, warmed
1 package active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
4 1/2 C flour
1 t salt (use regular because I think Kosher was too salty)
2-3 t honey
1 1/2 C buttermilk, warmed
1 egg, whisked (for baking)

1. Place yeast and sugar in the warmed water and let sit 10 minutes until foamy. Note - If it is not foamy after 10 minutes your yeast is not active and you must try again, always buy extra yeast!

2. Meanwhile, measure out all other ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Add yeast mixture and mix with the dough hook until a soft ball forms.

3. Remove the dough and place on a well-floured board and knead about 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 1 hour/

4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 5 minutes. Shape into a loaf and place into a loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 40 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 375.  Remove plastic wrap and brush bread top with egg.  Bake 45 minutes.  Wait a tiny bit for your hot bread to cool before enjoying.  We loved it with ham sandwiches for dinner!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cheese-Filled Corn Muffins

Have you noticed how catalogs are getting up with the times recently by offering other content to set them apart from others? For instance the Crate & Barrel catalog has a section called "get the download" where you get free books, apps and music to use in conjunction with their products.  Another catalog that has caught on is William-Sonoma. They provide recipes--some which feature their products and some you could make even if all your kitchen paraphernalia is from Target.

This month, the William-Sonoma catalog had an intriguing recipe for mini cheese-filled cornbreads.  Excited about the melty-creamy quality of Fontina in my recent recipe pizzaccherri, I was interested to try these so I made sure to have the ingredients on hand for the week.

When Friday finally pulled around I had the chance.  I only keep white cornmeal at home so I picked up some yellow in the bulk section at the grocery store. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 Cups of cornmeal and can you believe that is exactly what I guessed at the store?  Amazing.

I made these two ways--cheese & rosemary and cheese & jalepeno.  Both were good and neither had an overpowering flavor. I liked the cheese in the middle and didn't need any butter.  This makes 12 large muffins. Heat leftovers for 20 seconds in the microwave before eating for the cheesiest deliciousness.

1 1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary pr 1/2 jalepeno finely chopped, seed removed
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5 1/2 oz. fontina cheese, cut into twelve 3/4-inch cubes
Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Spray the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and rosemary (or jalepeno)*. Make a small well in the center.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and butter until just blended. Pour the egg mixture into the well of the cornmeal mixture and gently fold until the batter is blended and no lumps remain.

Spoon about 2 Tbs. batter into each prepared well and place a cheese cube in the center of each one. Spoon the remaining batter evenly on top, covering the cheese cubes. Bake until the edges of the corn bread are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

*If you want to make half rosemary and half jalepeno then don't mix it in with the dry ingredients. Instead sprinkle in the flavorings when you add the cheese.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Broccoli Fritters

This week we got a produce box. It is a challenge for me because I am making an effort to use the produce in ways that both my husband and I will eat together--or at least try.  Today I decided to make these broccoli fritters from the Smitten Kitchen Blog.  Joey said that these were good because they were crunchy and crisp and flavorful. However, he felt that once you got through the crisp it was strange that the inside was broccoli--he wished for potatoes.

On the other hand, I loved this! I thought it was a great way to eat broccoli. It was easy to make, and they are really pretty! They also sort of remind me of Oscar the Grouch. If you are having an OtG party this is your food of choice!

Make sure that you mash the broccoli into small pieces, I had some big chunks that made a few of the fritters fall apart in the pan. I also realized mid-cooking that my fritters weren't all over the heat and so they were just sitting there soaking up the oil--whoops! Still delicious though!

Recipe Here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valtellina Pizzoccheri

When I was young my family spent two different occasions in Sils-Maria, Switzerland at the Hotel Privata. My sister and I only were there in the winter but my parents have returned several times.  Sils-Maria is this beautiful small town nestled in the Engadin valley of Switzerland. It was cold but crisp when we were there and the hotel provided us breakfast and dinner along with our room.  We got to know the owners pretty well and I raved about the food after our vacations were over.  I just loved everything but my favorite was always the pizzoccheri.  I begged for this dish to be on the menu when we were there and it was surprisingly there both times.

Pizzoccheri refers to buckwheat noodles. At the hotel, the owners made their own noodles from scratch and mixed them with whatever vegetables were available and a healthy dosage of cheese.  This Northern Italian comfort dish is not to be missed! Well, actually if you talk to my husband you could pass on it but I really like it. I love making my own noodles and mixing them with the cheese and vegetables and sage butter.  For those not fans of vegetables you could set aside some pasta and cheese and butter and heat that separately into a delicious and creamy mac & cheese.

Valtellina Pizzoccheri
Serves 8 as a main course

For the Buckwheat Noodles:
*I couldn't find buckwheat flour anywhere which was sort of sad so I made noodles with a few different flours but I still missed the buckwheat
100g all purpose flour
200g semonila flour
200g whole wheat flour
(or 300 g all purpose flour + 200g buckwheat flour)
2 eggs
pinch of salt
4-5oz water

In a bowl stir together flour, eggs and salt.  Add water a little at a time until the dough forms together in a firm dough ball. Let sit 2-3 hours in the bowl covered with plastic wrap.

Roll pasta dough out on a floured surface as thin as you can. Cut into long noodles about 1cm wide or the width of a metal skewer. Separate noodles and set them aside until ready to cook.

Other Ingredients:
1 lb potatoes, cubed
1/2 lb Swiss chard, cut into 1 inch pieces, stems cut into small pieces but separate
1/2 lb spinach
8 oz Fontina cheese, grated
4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz Mozzarella cheese, grated
black pepper
2 T butter
10 sage leaves
4 cloves garlic, sliced

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add salt and potatoes and boil about 7-8 minutes until fork tender.  Add Swiss chard stems in the last minute of cooking. Remove potatoes and stems to drain but don't dump the water!
2. Add Swiss chard and spinach leaves to a steamer basket and steam, covered 2-3 minutes over same water (turn down the temp when you put the lid on). Set aside
3. Bring water back to a boil and add pasta with some more salt.  Cook pasta 3-4 minutes until it resembles pasta.  If you are using buckwheat noodles this could take a little longer. If you are using dried buckwheat pasta this could take up to 17 minutes. Drain pasta, you are free to get rid of the water.
4. In a heavy bottomed skillet brown butter with sage and garlic about 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
5. Preheat the oven to 450
6. In a large casserole dish layer pasta, vegetables and cheese along with salt & pepper to taste.  Pour garlic/sage/butter mixture over the top.
7.  Bake 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and serve warm.   This is delicious with a simple salad on the side.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pasta Pie - Inverted Spaghetti & Meatballs

When I was reading through my regular blogroll a few weeks ago I read about this pasta pie.  Immediately, I thought of my friend Robin's fat parties and sent her the dish. She told me we should have it at our next game night, and so we did.

This is basically meatballs formed into a pie crust with pasta, cheese and sauce on top.  You could totally reduce the amount of cheese and my pie plate wasn't big enough to use all the meat--so I froze a couple of mini meatballs. You could even use turkey in place of the beef if you were so inclined.  You could use a different noodle but nothing too big, this size was good for presentation but harder to fork. If you use a big noodle then reduce the amount of pasta significantly.

This is actually very delicious, it was good with sauce on the side and without. It was good the next day and several days after.

I found this recipe on The Italian Dish. The only thing I did differently was to use less meat (and I used the rest to make meatballs) and less pasta (because my pie tin was obviously not as deep as hers). You might as well still make the amount she used and have leftover pasta (sooo good due to the cheese) and leftover meatballs (roll into balls, freeze on a baking sheet, transfer to a ziploc when frozen, defrost before using for soups, pasta, pizza or sandwiches.

The Recipe.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

TrueFood Kale Salad

Kale is the buzzword in Santa Monica. I feel like everywhere I turn someone is eating some kale or worse, drinking some kale!  It is like the superfood that trumps all superfoods. I'm not a huge fan of kale and prefer to hid it in soups than make it a star.  However, this salad is so delicious. This salad makes me crave more kale! I have now made it two weekends in a row, eaten all the remnants and dreamed of picking up more kale at the market to have it all week.

This salad comes from TrueFood Kitchen which is a restaurant in Santa Monica that you should visit if you are there and someone else is paying.

Kale Salad
4-6 cups kale, any variety or a mix! (I used a mix of three kinds and the purple one is pretty
3-4 T olive oil, I used Ojai Valley Lemon Olive Oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
1 shake red pepper flakes
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese, it really is better if you grate your own here
optional toasted breadcrumbs for topping (I didn't use these)

1. Tear kale from hard inner stems. Soak leaves in a bowl of water, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
2. Remove leaves from water and place on a clean dish towel to dry. Roll dish towel and leaves into a burrito and set aside
3. Meanwhile, combine lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper in a small pyrex. Whisk together until combined.
4. Toss dressing, cheese and kale together in a large bowl and serve.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chicken & Noodles

This afternoon my friends and I met to discuss "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" and eat. Unfortunately, this book was all about not eating so I had to be creative with the food served but I wanted to keep it Pioneer-like.  I decided on a simple meal of Chicken & Noodles. Chicken & Noodles is something I have most had experience with in Indiana. Traditionally, the noodles are made from scratch and the whole thing is served over mashed potatoes and sometimes a biscuit. That seemed a little excessive...On the second day the broth is all soaked up by the noodles so it becomes more of a casserole than soup.  I served this the first day* so it was more of a dumpling soup.  Still delicious--mashed potatoes weren't missed.

*Technically I made the soup the day before but I didn't add the noodles (which soak up the broth) until the next day so it was still soupy.

Chicken Soup

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 box chicken stock (24 oz)
2 cans chicken broth
1 T herbs de Provence
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t turmeric
1 t salt
5 grinds black pepper
3 carrots, chopped or cut into coins
2 celery stalks cut into half moons
3 inner celery stalks with leaves chopped
1 batch dumpling noodles (recipe to follow)
1 1/2 C pasta water from making noodles

1. Place chicken pieces and all the spices in a large dutch oven and cover in stock--if chicken isn't all the way covered add some broth until it is covered.
2. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. (this is called poaching chicken)
3. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables
4. When chicken is cooked, remove chicken from broth and set aside.  Add vegetables to the pot and cook 10-15 minutes on medium
5. When chicken is cool enough to touch, shred with your hands or two forks
6. Add chicken back in and add broth if you think broth is low.  Heat 5 minutes then remove from heat and let cool and refrigerate overnight (unless you are having it today, then just turn off the heat until the pasta is ready).

Dumpling Noodles from here
2 1/2 C flour
2 eggs
1/2 C milk
1 t salt
1 T butter, melted

1. In a large bowl combine flour and salt.  In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk and butter. Whisk until just combined.
2. Pour egg mixture into a well in the middle of the flour and stir until just combined
3. Turn  out on a floured surface and knead 5 minutes until smooth
4. Place dough back in the bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let sit 15 minutes
5. Turn out the dough onto floured surface and roll as thin as you can go--aim for 1/4 inch. If it starts springing back step away for a few minutes and come back and try again.
6. Use a pie crimper or knife or something to cut into long strips
7. Place cut noodles on a cooling rack and let sit while you boil the water
8. Boil water in a large pan. When water is boiling add 1 t +  of salt. Cook noodles 5 minutes until they taste like pasta.
9. Reserve 1 1/2 C pasta water. Drain noodles
10. Add noodles to the soup along with reserved pasta water and heat soup until warm. Serve today as soup and Serve tomorrow over mashed potatoes...if you dare.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pork Tenderloin with Fennel & Apples

We were watching the Food Network the other day and Joey said "I wonder if I would like fennel" after an episode about the licoricey flavor of fennel.  Always eager to add new ingredients into our regular menus, I jumped at the chance. I decided to serve the fennel roasted because Joey's not big on raw vegetables or salads.  As I was cooking, we both had a piece of the stalk to taste. Have you ever tasted the stalk? Crazy Licorice Explosion! It's a really weird sensation because it is crunchy and a vegetable and tastes just like a black twizzler. The roasted fennel turned out to be a plus and the entire recipe was fantastic! I want this to join my regular menu options.  This recipe came together quickly, had a lot of flavor, and was a winner with my family. Will it be for yours?

Recipe from Gastronomer's Guide but I am re-posting it here because what if they stop their blog at some point and then I can't access it anymore? I'd be really sad.

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
fennel fronds
2 granny smith apples, sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pork tenderloin
3 T butter, room temperature
1 branch rosemary (oh yeah they used thyme but I had rosemary), finely chopped *a sharp knife here is a necessity
salt & pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 and prep your vegetables

1. Toss apples, garlic and fennel with a little oil and arrange in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make an herb butter with the rosemary and butter. Preheat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add some oil.
3. Pat pork dry, salt and pepper all sides and rub with herb butter
4. Sear pork on all sides in the hot pan
5. Remove vegetables from the oven and toss and push to the edges of the pan. Place the pork in the middle and pour the juices over everything.  Roast another 10-15 minutes until pork reaches 145 degrees.
6. Serve warm with fennel fronds on top

Monday, January 7, 2013

One Roast - Many Meals

We usually use our Costco membership exclusively to buy movie tickets. But sometimes we go crazy and actually shop there. The problem is that the food is HUGE and for two people it's really hard to imagine using it all. But this time, we had a plan.  My family was coming over for New Years Eve dinner - a Christmas #3. I wanted to serve a roast because they are so easy. You rub it with some spices, throw it in the oven and let it go with no extra work until the end.  I was also going to make some carrots and some boiled potatoes...but only the carrots happened due to some last minute bad planning. However, the meat thing, was a good idea.

At Costco we found an 8 1/2lb roast for $35. We only needed about 4lbs for dinner but we have a kitchen scale.  We were planning to make chili the next day for NYD so we decided we could use the same roast. I knew we would have leftovers but we would make it work. And we did. This is one of those cost saving measures that requires creativity so you don't end up eating the same thing 12 times. And it was fun!

All Dishes Ingredient:
8 1/2 lb roast - boneless beef cap (also called Round Roast)

Roast Beef with Cilantro-Garlic Rub - Serves 7 + leftovers for 2-3 meals
4 1/2 lb beef roast in one piece
1 bunch cilantro
3 cloves garlic
salt (to taste)
1 T olive oil
2 brown onions, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 325
2. Rip the leaf tops off cilantro stems, there will be some stem left but not all. In a mini chopper or food processor combine garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and olive oil so it forms a paste.
3. Salt & Pepper roast all over. Rub the paste on top
4. Place sliced onions on the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet and place the rubbed roast on top of the onions.
5. Roast for 25-30 minutes per pound, about 2 1/2 hours until temperature reaches 145 for medium rare.
6. Thinly slice roast and serve. Save leftovers in one big chunk in foil.

French Dip Sandwiches (for 2)
Leftover roast, thinly sliced - use as much meat as you want
1 packet au jus seasoning mix
3 Cups water
1 loaf Italian bread, from Albertsons warm if you can but whatever, you're going to toast it

1. Preheat the oven to 350
2. Cut bread into thick slices - like 4 inch pieces. Slice the center so it is still connected. Butter the inside of the bread and lay open on a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Add au jus to water following instructions on the package
4. Toast the bread
5. Add the meat to the au jus to warm it up
6. Assemble the sandwiches by placing meat on the bread and add some au jus. Pour some remaining au jus into small dishes for dipping

Chili (serves 4 with seconds)
2 lbs beef roast, divided
Coarse-grind 1lb of meat in the food processor
Cut the other pound into small chunks

Meatballs with Garlic Bread (Yield 18 large meatballs)
adapted from Everyday Food Videos with Sarah Carey (I love these)
2 lbs beef, ground in the food processor
5 slices white bread, pulverized in the food processor
1/3 C water
3+ cloves garlic, minced
1 medium baguette
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5oz can whole tomatoes
3/4 t oregano
salt & pepper
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400
2. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pan. Add 1 clove minced garlic & 1/4 t oregano and cook about 30 seconds
3. Add tomatoes and salt. Breakdown whole tomatoes with a potato masher or a fork or a spatula leaving some chunks.  Simmer sauce uncovered until you need it next
4. In a large bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the water. Add meat, remaining oregano, some salt, some pepper, a little of the garlic and egg and mix with your hands until the ingredients are combined.
5. Roll meatballs in your hands and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
6. Cut the bread in half and then in half again lengthwise. On another rimmed baking sheet place the bread cut side up. Sprinkle oil over bread and spread remaining garlic over the top.
7. Place the bread in the oven for 10 minutes (or maybe a little bit less)
8. For two people, place 4-6 meatballs directly into the sauce. Push them down to be covered and cook for 10 minutes.
9. Serve Meatballs and sauce in a bowl with a side of garlic bread
10. Put the parchment lined baking sheet with other meatballs into the freezer until meatballs are frozen. Then place them in a bag.  Defrost completely before cooking next time.

Homemade Meatball & Tomato Pizza (serves 2)
1 round pizza dough (buy or make, we made ours)
2 meatballs, defrosted and re-rolled into smaller pieces
1/2 C pizza sauce
1/2 C mozzarella cheese
2 T parmesan cheese
3 small balls fresh mozzarella
5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Pizza Spices

1. Preheat the oven to 450 with a pizza stone inside
2. Roll out your pizza dough and place it on cornmeal on top of a pizza peel (like a small cutting board) (ours rolled out, but sometimes you have to stretch it)
3. Spread sauce in a circular motion on the pizza
4. In a pan saute meatballs for a few minutes until cooked through in a bit of olive oil
5. Add pizza spices and toppings to the dough including the meatballs, broken up into pieces
6. Bake for 15 minutes, cut in half and eat while still hot!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Inside out Stuffed Chicken

Roasted chicken is one of my favorite comfort foods. Unfortunately, it is not my husband's. So I make it less than I would like to. Last night, I finally had the chance to make a recipe I saw on the Everyday Food video blog. This recipe is delicious and you should make it tonight! Basically, you cut up some bread and vegetables and lay them on a tray, the "stuffing" then you place the chicken on top and some of the bread gets soft and some of the bread gets crispy and everything sticks to the pan and it's really tasty!

The pictures/video are pretty helpful for me. I watched the video a couple of times and then didn't refer to the recipe at all for the making of it. I also did a terrible butchering job of my chicken so I only used drumsticks, thighs and wings.  I cut my apples too small - cut them bigger cause they are in the oven a long time. Also I would use two apples if I were you. I used rosemary instead of caraway seeds.

Inside-Out Chicken & Stuffing
1 small loaf rustic bread (or use 9oz but I used more), cut into 2-inch chunks
2 apples, cut into smaller chunks but not too small
2 celery sticks cut into half moons
1 C chicken stock
olive oil
4 sprigs rosemary
1 whole chicken cut up into pieces (or just use drumsticks and thighs)

1. Preheat the oven to 400
2. In a large rimmed baking sheet toss the bread, apple and celery with salt, pepper and oil (about 1 T), then spread out across the pan so it is relatively flat
3. Place bread in the oven and bake 10 minutes
4. Remove tray, pour chicken stock over bread and toss until it is absorbed
5. Nestle chicken pieces on top or next to bread, rub with oil on the skins (to make them brown) and salt & pepper. Add rosemary sprigs around the pan
6. Roast 25-35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and golden.
7. Serve with stuffing

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Herdez Verde Salsa Pork Chops

We watch a lot of the food network, there, I said it.  Sometimes they have food & recipe commercials on the FN. After weeks of seeing one for Herdez Verde Salsa Pork Chops, we gave in and made the recipe. We are glad we did! This is now one of our go-to recipes during the week. We love how quick it is, how tasty it is and just easy. We switch out the sides but it would be good with anything, I think the original recipe calls for rice to go with it. I also think the original uses bone-in pork chops but we're partial to the thin boneless chops because they take less time and still taste great.

1/2 smaller size jar of Herdez Verde Salsa*
4 boneless pork chops, thin style
1 white onion
garlic salt
1 T olive oil (the original calls for 4!)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium high heat (lid off)
2. Slice onions into rings and place them in the pan, you will be putting the pork on top of these so they should be relatively flat
3. Garlic salt & pepper the pork on both sides
4. Place pork on top of the onions, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 15-20 minutes or until pork is opaque
5. Remove lid and pour salsa all over pork, let simmer about 5 minutes and serve

*if you aren't a fan of spice use less salsa because it can be spicy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quick Beef Chili

It's New Years Day and nothing says new year & football like a warm bowl of chili. I decided to make one today for 4 for lunch.  Chili can be complicated and it can be easy and it is always delicious. Today, my first priority was not to make it overly spicy so that my mom could eat it without setting her mouth on fire.

For NYE, Joey & I picked up a nearly 9-lb roast at Costco. We cut it in half and roasted one half with a cilantro/garlic rub. Then I used 2 lbs of the uncooked half to make the chili. I cut 1lb in small chunks and ground the other 1lb into a course grind using the food processor (it worked great!).

This chili was fast, easy, and sat on the stove all by itself while we watched the parade/game.

2lb beef, half ground, half cut into small chunks
1 white onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 jalepeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 can pinto beans (15oz)
1 28.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato paste
2 cups (about 1 can) chicken broth
3 T chili powder
1 T ancho chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 T olive oil

Shredded cheese & cilantro for serving

1. Prepare all your ingredients
2. Heat olive oil in a 5 1/2 qt dutch oven over medium
3. Brown onion until soft
4. Add garlic and cook 30 sec
5. Add beef and brown
6. Remove some fat if there is tons
7. Add jalepeno, spices, crushed tomato, tomato paste, and broth
8. Simmer at least 45 minutes, but up to 2 hours is fine
9. 15-20 minutes before serving add beans
10. Serve with cheese and cilantro and hot sauce