Sunday, December 19, 2010

Italian Cream Cake

Italian cream cake! It has been a favorite of mine for years and years, but I haven't made it in a while. It's great for Christmas because it's all white. You could garnish it with sugared cranberries to make it look more festive.

It's a three-layer coconut cake with cream cheese/coconut/pecan frosting - not sure where the Italian part comes in, but it's absolutely delicious! I've adapted the technique of the original recipe quite a bit to make it lighter and fluffier. Note that the layers will be fairly thin.

Italian Cream Cake

1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups white sugar
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

Frosting


8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut











DIRECTIONS:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans; put a parchment round in the bottom; and grease again. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk; set aside.
2.In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, shortening and white sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the yolks and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix flour with salt and alternate adding it to batter with buttermilk mixture. Add coconut and stir until just combined. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and stir gently into batter. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
3.Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
4.To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and confectioners' sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Mix in a small amount of cream to attain the desired consistency. Stir in chopped nuts and remaining flaked coconut. Spread between layers and on top and sides of cooled cake.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dinner for Forty

The other night I got to do something I've never done before - cater a party! I made dinner/dessert for the 40 wonderful women who teach at Ben's preschool. I was worried about everything coming out at the same time, but it all worked out fine. I really enjoyed dreaming up my dinner plan and seeing it all come together. Here is the menu I served with links to all the recipes.

Christmas Dinner

Glazed Pork Tenderloin (the rub and glaze from the Island Pork Tenderloin recipe)





Rolls and Butter

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cake (served in individual clear plastic cups)


Friday, December 17, 2010

Crunchy Romaine Toss




I wanted a delicious salad that wasn't too sweet, and I didn't want to make Greek or Caesar salad. I found this one on allrecipes.com and changed it quite a bit.

It's definitely crowd-pleasing and kid-pleasing. Part of the draw is the crunch, so add the topping shortly before serving.

Crunchy Romaine Toss

1 small head Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into fairly small pieces
4 green onions, sliced
1 package ramen noodles, seasoning packet discarded
1/4 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans
1-2 T. butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 t. soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Crush ramen noodles. Melt butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Add almonds and noodles and stir around, toasting until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Put oil, vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce in a blender or jar with a tight-fitting lid and process or shake until combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. If you aren't using the dressing right away, you'll need to shake it again.

Half an hour or so before serving, toss the broccoli with some dressing. When ready to serve, put lettuce into a bowl and add broccoli and green onion if using and half of noodle/almond mixture. Drizzle some dressing and toss. Top with remaining noodle mixture and serve.

Note: you'll probably have leftover dressing.

Mexican Chocolate Cookies



I've had a few requests for this recipe and want to get it on the blog. These cookies are wonderful because they are chewy inside/crunchy outside with layers of flavor, from chocolate to honey to cinnamon to toasted pecans. And the secret ingredient is chipotle powder - just enough to add a little heat. They are great for Christmas - all warm and sparkly. You can store the dough in the refrigerator for several days and bake as needed.


Mexican Chocolate Cookies (from www.cookiemadness.net)



2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp chipotle powder
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 12-oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups pecans, roughly chopped and toasted

Cinnamon sugar for coating:
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl.

In a separate large bowl, cream butter with sugars, honey and vanilla extract. Add eggs, one at a time. Slowly incorporate dry mixture into batter. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Chill batter in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight.. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls (1 ½ inches, +/-) and coat with cinnamon sugar coating, then place on cookie sheets that are greased or lined with parchment. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until outer surface begins to crack. Place unused raw batter back in refrigerator between batches. Cool cookies on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container. Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - S'more Pie

I really wish I took a picture of my pie rather than using the one from Epicurious, because it definitely looked prettier. This pie was a hit, especially with the three men at my house. I personally don't love s'mores, but they do and went nuts. It's not a hard pie to make despite the three steps. It will definitely be part of our Thanksgiving menu next year, but I'm sure I'll be asked to make it before that!

S'more Pie (from Gourmet)

For crust
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for greasing
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (10 graham crackers, about 6 oz)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

For chocolate cream filling
7 ounces chocolate chips, plus an extra 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, at room temperature for 30 minutes

For marshmallow topping
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce package)
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Vegetable oil for greasing

Make graham cracker crust:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter pie plate.
Stir together all ingredients in a bowl and press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, then cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Make chocolate cream filling:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put 7 oz. chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then gently whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Gently whisk in egg and a pinch of salt until combined and pour into graham cracker crumb crust (crust will be about half full).

Cover edge of pie with a pie shield or foil and bake until filling is softly set and trembles slightly in center when gently shaken, about 25 minutes. Remove pie from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Cool pie to room temperature on a rack (filling will firm as it cools), about 1 hour.

Make marshmallow topping:
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a large deep heatproof bowl and let stand until softened, about 1 minute.

Stir together sugar, corn syrup, a pinch of salt, and remaining 1/4 cup water in cleaned 1- to 1 1/4-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until thermometer registers 260°F, about 6 minutes.

Begin beating water and gelatin mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed, then carefully pour in hot syrup in a slow stream, beating (avoid beaters and side of bowl). When all of syrup is added, increase speed to high and continue beating until mixture is tripled in volume and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then immediately spoon topping onto center of pie filling; it will slowly spread to cover top of pie. Chill, uncovered, 1 hour, then cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap (oiled side down) and chill 3 hours more.


Brown topping:
Preheat broiler.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet. Cover edge of pie with pie shield or foil and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat, rotating pie as necessary, until marshmallow topping is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Cool pie on a rack 10 minutes. Slice pie with a large heavy knife dipped in hot water and then dried with a towel before cutting each slice.

Two Bobby Flay Thanksgiving Recipes

I watched the Thanksgiving Throwdown that Bobby Flay did with the Pioneer Woman. She won, but I was intrigued by two of Bobby's recipes. I made them for our meal, and they were both very good. I'm not sure I'd make them every year, but they were unique and delicious.

Bobby's Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Apple Sauce and Creme Anglaise is excellent - I consider it restaurant quality because of all the flavors, textures, and temperatures. The downside is the recipe is really made of four different recipes plus whipped cream, and each recipe is a different classic dessert preparation: cooked caramel, Creme Anglaise, and custard. That doesn't even factor in the problem I had with the caramel - I took my eyes off it; it burnt to a nasty black tar-like appearance; and my inadequate disposal methods meant I was scraping burnt caramel off the cupboards at midnight. It is amazing, though, and I could make the caramel apple sauce as a cheesecake or spice cake topping. If you want the recipe, click here.

The next recipe is Cranberry Blackberry Sauce. When we saw it on the show, Bobby mentioned jalapenos, so I diced one and added it with the onion since it's not mentioned in the recipe. I liked it, but lots of people really liked it. I did love the blackberries. Here's that link.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is a common Southern "vegetable" served at Thanksgiving. I made it for the first time this year, and even though we have plenty of starchy sides, we really loved it. It also makes a great non-Thanksving-y leftover.

This is Martha Stewart's recipe I've posted before, but here it is with some changes. It is so, so good.

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 12
1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish or 9x13 pan; set aside. Place panko breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. In the microwave, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with breadcrumbs, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 cup Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/4 cup Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - White Bread Stuffing

Well, it doesn't photograph well, but people are passionate about stuffing! It's already one of Jack's favorites. I've made Thanksgiving dinner most years for the last 16 years, and about 10 years ago, I thought I would try something different from the typical Northern white bread stuffing I grew up with. I tried cornbread, sourdough, sausage, craisins, etc - it was fine.

And then three years ago I asked my mom to make the stuffing. When I tasted her stuffing, it was like a Proustian madeleine - I was transported back to childhood Thanksgiving meals in New Hampshire. No more experimenting - we're sticking with our stuffing.

Here's how I do it. I think this method answers some of the common anxieties about stuffing: food safety and abundance. I make two batches; make one in the bird and one in the oven; mix them together and reheat. We have plenty of stuffing cooked to the correct temperature.

White Bread Stuffing

2 loaves of cheap white bread, torn into 1/2 inch pieces by small children
8 ribs of celery, diced
2 onions, diced
3 sticks butter
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 T. sage or poultry seasoning (plus more to taste)

1. Prepare white bread ahead of time so it has time to get a little stale. You can also lightly toast the bread, or you can just skip this step.

2. In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until soft. Season with sage, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in bread cubes until evenly coated. Moisten with chicken broth; mix well. Add more sage if pale and more broth if dry.

3. Heat half the stuffing in the microwave until warm, then stuff the turkey. Roast turkey.

4. Ahead of time or after the turkey comes out of the oven, bake the rest of the stuffing in a 90-inch pan for 30-40 minutes at 350. Hint: you can bake this stuffing on the grill. Turn the grill on to low, put the stuffing in the pan within a disposable aluminum pan, and bake. Keep an eye on it, though - it can cook very quickly!

5. When the turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing and mix with the baked stuffing. Put it back in the oven until heated through - about 5-10 minutes.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Sweet Potato Casserole

I've made many sweet potato casserole recipes, but this year's recipe was especially good. It comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Pioneer Woman; she calls them Soul Sweet Taters. I think it was the milk that made the sweet potatoes so light in texture. These are very sweet; you could reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup with no problem. I made a couple of small changes to the recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole

4 whole Sweet Potatoes
1 cup Sugar (can use less)
1 cup Milk
2 whole Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Pecans, chopped
½ cups Flour
6 T. Butter

Preparation Instructions
Wash 4 sweet potatoes and bake them in a 375-degree oven until fork tender, about 45-50 minutes. When they are finished cooking slice them open and scrape out the flesh into a large bowl.

Add 1 cup of (regular granulated) sugar, 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of salt. With a potato masher or a large fork, mash them up just enough—you don’t want to be perfectly smooth.

Now, in a separate bowl, add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup pecans, chopped, ½ cup flour, and 6 T. of butter. With a pastry cutter or fork, mash together until thoroughly combined.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into a regular baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. You can bake this before the turkey goes in the oven and reheat before serving - even in the microwave.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Mashed Potatoes

Before I get to the mashed potatoes, I wanted to point out the gourds in the picture. I bought them at the very beginning of October and they are still in good shape. I read on a decorating blog that if you wash gourds/pumpkins in a 9:1 water:bleach solution (I used a Clorox spray cleaner); coat them in a thin layer of Vaseline; and buff them until they shine, they will last and last. And they did!

Another great timesaver on Thanksgiving is making your mashed potatoes the day before and reheating them in your slow cooker. You'll save room on your stove, too!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (serves 20)

10 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
milk, half and half, or heavy cream
butter
salt and pepper

Put potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with a water - you may need to use two pots. Add about a tablespoon of salt (or divide it between two pots). Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Save a cup or two of potato cooking water in case your potatoes are dry or your gravy needs it. Drain potatoes and keep warm.

I like to use a potato ricer, but you can also use a hand masher. I read once that it's best to add your milk/cream before you add your butter - it has something to do with the starch. Heat cream until warm and add, a cup at a time. Once the potatoes are starting to appear creamy, add butter, a half stick at a time. Add salt and pepper and more cream or butter as necessary. I don't hold back when it comes to Thanksgiving potatoes: it's heavy cream, butter, and lots of it.

Put potatoes in slow cooker crock and chill overnight. Reheat on low, and turn it to warm when the potatoes are hot. If they seem a bit dry, add a little warm milk or potato cooking water - but don't add too much!

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Gravy

Gravy is an essential yet challenging part of the Thanksgiving meal. You need it to be hot, plentiful, and ready when the rest of the food is. Here's a gravy base I came up with after looking at a couple of ideas online; I made it on Wednesday, but you could make it even earlier. Just reheat it gently when the turkey is close to being done. The gravy turned out amazing, and it couldn't have been easier on Thanksgiving Day.

Make Ahead Gravy

3 lbs. turkey wings or chicken wings
turkey neck (if included with your turkey)
2 onions, peeled and quartered
6 T. butter
6 T. flour
salt and pepper (I didn't use salt because my turkey is brined and the drippings are salty; I added more salt shortly before serving)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange a single layer of turkey/chicken wings/neck in a large roasting pan. Scatter the onions over the top of the wings. Roast in the preheated oven for 1-1/4 hours or until wings are browned. Chicken wings will finish earlier than turkey.

2. Place browned wings and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add water to roasting pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the the water from the pan into the stockpot. Stir in 8 (6 cups if you didn't roast the neck) cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, lightly covered for 1-1/2 hours. Discard wings, neck, and onions.

3.In a medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour.

4. Cook over medium-high heat until flour is incorporated and white bubbles begin to form on the top of the roux. Cook the roux for 2-3 minute after the white bubbles have formed, whisking constantly.

5. Gradually add the broth, whisking constantly until the gravy is thickened and comes to a boil.

6. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

7. At this point, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the gravy base for as long as 4 days. Reheat in a medium-sized pan. When turkey is done, add gravy base to pan drippings and bring it to serving temperature. You may need to add broth or potato cooking water to thin the gravy. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu 2010



Jack and Ben, ripping up white bread for stuffing.


This is not going to be a pretty post. I'm basically going to copy and paste my Thanksgiving Menu into the post. There will be some links, but they'll be long and messy. But I'll be able to keep track of what I'm doing, and if you are looking for a last minute recipe, you might find something here.

As usual, it's a crazy amount of food for 12 people, but I'm going to ask the guests to bring Tupperware so I can send them home with leftovers.

Thanksgiving 2010

Appetizers

Chex Mix - Chris
Spinach Dip - Terri
Fluffy Apple Dip http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Fluffy-Apple-Dip

French Onion Mushrooms http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/11/french-onion-soup-stuffed-mushrooms/

Meal

Roast Turkey http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/thanksgiving/favoritetopratedthanksgivingrecipes/recipes/food/views/Cider-Brined-and-Glazed-Turkey-233148

Smoked Turkey http://www.primalgrill.org/recipe_details.asp?RecipeID=214&EpisodeID=25

Stuffing
Rolls - Chris

Gravy

Mashed Potatoes

Squash, Wild Rice, Red Onion salad http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/roasted-pumpkin-salad-recipe.html

Spinach Casserole - Chris

Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Topping http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/11/if_you_think_you_dont_like_sweet_potatoesthink_again/


Cranberry Apple Salad http://diningwell.blogspot.com/2008/11/thanksgiving-cranberry-apple-salad.html

Cranberry/Blackberry Sauce by Bobby Flay http://dianecancook.blogspot.com/2010/11/im-thankful-forcranberry-sauce.html

Waldorf Salad - Grandma

Jello Salad - Grandma

Green Bean Casserole http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/green-bean-casserole?comments_page=1&showComments=true&#conversation-container

Mac and Cheese http://diningwell.blogspot.com/2009/04/martha-stewarts-macaroni-and-cheese.html

Brussels Sprouts http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/nibbles-and-drinks/bacon-sprouts/

Dessert

Pumpkin Bread Pudding http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/pumpkin-bread-pudding-with-spicy-caramel-apple-sauce-and-vanilla-bean-creme-anglaise-recipe/index.html

Apple Pie - Mom

S’more Pie PW http://thenoshery.com/2010/05/03/smore-pie-would-you-like-some-more-pie/

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (link)

Here's the link if you are looking for a great fall dessert:


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Monday, November 15, 2010

No-Knead Bread

This is a dangerous recipe. It's a quick and easy way to have delicious, homemade, crusty bread every night of the week. Once you start having homemade bread with dinner, it's hard to go back to rice or potatoes! An added bonus is you'll always have dough on hand to make a quick homemade pizza. The recipe makes enough for four or more boules (round loaves) of bread, and the dough keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks.

The recipe comes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

No-Knead Bread

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
Cornmeal

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chesapeake Chowder


Wow, is this chowder good! We liked it so much, I made it twice in one week. It's great with crusty bread or as a starter with crab cakes. It reheats well, too, but it wouldn't be good to freeze.

Chesapeake Chowder

1/2 pound unpeeled, medium-size fresh shrimp
1/2 pound fresh crabmeat
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 (8-oz.) bottle clam juice
5 red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

1. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Drain and flake crabmeat, removing any bits of shell. Set seafood aside.

2. Sauté onion, garlic, and celery in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in broth and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

3. Stir in shrimp, crabmeat, and heavy cream; cook over low heat 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Garnish, if desired.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ben's Birthday Cake


I never posted a picture of Ben's dragon cake, and I've had a request - so here it is!

Soft Serve Banana "Ice Cream"


Growing up in New Hampshire, we had a soft-serve ice cream shop named King Kone. King Kone had never more than six flavors: usually chocolate, vanilla, twist, banana, black raspberry, and bananaberry. Their soft serve was excellent and the cones were huge, and if you ever visit Merrimack, NH in the summer, be sure to check it out.

This recipe doesn't really have anything to do with commercial soft serve, but it sure is good. And healthy!

Take three bananas (overripe or ripe) and cut them into pieces, then freeze. To make the ice cream, take the bananas out of the freezer and let them soften for a minute or two.

Put the banana pieces in a food processor and blend until the ice cream is light and airy. It will take about 2-3 minutes; scrape down the bananas as needed.

The boys love this - the first time I made it, I told them they were having ice cream for breakfast. It's amazing how creamy, rich, and smooth the bananas become, truly mimicking the texture and flavor of soft serve.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

I needed to use up some broccoli and chicken, so I came up with this soup. It was delicious - a meal in a bowl! I did make some scallion pancakes for the carb lovers in the family.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 T. butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups chicken broth
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. red pepper
1 t. salt (can use less)
4 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup cream
2-3 cups cooked chicken breast
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided

Cook celery and onions in butter until starting to soften (about five minutes). Stir flour into butter and cook for a minute or two. Slowly add chicken broth and whisk into flour mixture. Cook over medium low heat until starting to thicken.

Add salt, black pepper, red pepper, and broccoli. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is tender. Stir in cream, chicken and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.

Serve with remaining cheese on top.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Caramel Corn

I have known my favorite brother-in-law Shane for 13 years now, and allegedly he's been making caramel corn for his entire life. But he's never made it for us before tonight! And it is soooo good; nobody could stay out of it! You could leave out the pecans and use an extra bag of microwave popcorn.

This is a great party snack for fall and winter, and it would make an excellent Christmas gift in a cellophane bag, tied with a festive ribbon. I hope you like it as much as we did!

Caramel Corn

2 bags of microwave popcorn, popped
1 1/2 cups pecans (can sub another bag of microwave popcorn)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. baking soda

Mix popcorn with pecans in a large heat-proof bowl. Remove the unpopped kernels.

Cook brown sugar, butter, salt, and Karo syrup over medium heat until it boils, stirring frequently. Let caramel boil for four minutes without stirring. Remove from heat.

Add vanilla and baking soda to the brown sugar mixture and stir. The baking soda will make the caramel bubble up. Pour over popcorn and nuts and toss to coat.

Put caramel corn in a large roasting pan or jelly roll pan. Bake at 250 for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn out onto waxed paper in a single layer; cool.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Yellow Rice

In our Story of the World curriculum, Jack and I have been been studying medieval Spain. I decided to make a Spanish meal for dinner. The chicken in almond and garlic sauce was delicious, but I expect I'll be making the yellow rice quite often - it was so good. I found both recipes in Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World.

Yellow Rice

2 1/2 cups chicken stock
large pinch saffron threads (1 teaspoon) or 1/2 t. turmeric
1 medium onion, chopped
4 T. butter or olive oil
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
salt and pepper to taste

Warm the stock gently in a saucepan with the saffron or turmeric. Put half the butter in a deep skillet with a lid over medium heat. A minute later, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened - about five minutes. Add rice and continue to cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy and begins to brown, about five minutes more.

Add the stock all at once, along with salt and pepper. Cover and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently and cook until rice is done, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter; taste and adjust the seasoning.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

I love salsa, but lately I've been making pico de gallo more often. I like how chunky and flavorful it is, and it's a great topping for breakfast burritos or tacos. I first made it when I was introduced to Rick Bayless's Mexican cookbooks, but I wasn't a huge fan until I read Pioneer Woman's take on pico: each ingredient plays an equally important role. In other words, pico de gallo should not be 3/4 tomato with a little onion, jalapeno, and cilantro; equal amounts are what gives pico its flavor.

When you make it, save a 1/2 cup or so for the guacamole; that recipe will come next.

Pico de Gallo

4-5 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small onion, diced
3 jalapenos, seeded and minced (leave the seeds in if you want much spicier pico)
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and leaves chopped
2 T. lime juice
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients. Taste and correct with more lime juice and salt if needed.

Guacamole

3 ripe avocados, mashed (you can buy unripe avocados a few days ahead and put them in a bag with an apple to ripen them)
1/2 cup pico de gallo
lime juice
salt

Combine avocado with pico de gallo. Add more lime juice and salt if needed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mini Twice-Baked Potatoes

Twice-baked potatoes are so retro but so good! For my mom's birthday, I decided to make them in mini red potatoes for the cute factor. These would make great appetizers or a side dish for company, since you can make them ahead of time and reheat.

Mini Twice-Baked Potatoes

18 mini red potatoes
1/4 cup milk
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese (more to taste)
1/2 cup sour cream (more to taste)
paprika, salt, and pepper

Note: If you bake another russet potato along with the red potatoes, you'll be able to make more overstuffed twice-baked potatoes.

Bake potatoes at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven when tender. When cool enough to handle, cut a thin lid from the top of each potato. Using a small teaspoon, scoop out the inside of the potato, leaving a half-inch border from the edge. Remove all the potato insides to a medium size mixing bowl. To the bowl, add the milk, butter, sour cream, cheese, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix to combine. Taste and add more sour cream or cheese if needed.

Spoon filling back into potatoes. If you want to make them fancy, you can do what I did in the photo above and put the potato mixture in a cake decorating bag. Use a star tip to fill the potatoes. Sprinkle tops with paprika and return to the oven. Bake until golden.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Baked Tomatoes with Feta

I should have posted this recipe in the summer, but in case you can still find any good tomatoes, here's a great lunch or side dish. You can serve it with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Baked Tomatoes with Feta

2 flavorful tomatoes, sliced
1/4 - 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
fresh basil leaves, julienned

Place tomatoes in one layer in a baking dish. Scatter feta on top and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until tomatoes are blistery and juices are released. Top with basil and serve.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kielbasa and Cabbage

Kielbasa is not something I ever buy, but we had some leftover from the cassoulet. I made kielbasa and cabbage, and we were surprised how much we liked it! It must be the bacon.

Now that the weather is getting cooler (finally!), it would make a great fall dish.

Kielbasa and Cabbage (adapted from allrecipes.com)

6 slices bacon
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar (could use one tablespoon)
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
3 teaspoons caraway seed (I left this out)
1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges
1 pound Polish kielbasa

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cut the kielbasa into several pieces and slice lengthwise. In a large skillet, fry kielbasa in a little olive oil until browned. You could also grill it. Remove kielbasa and set aside.

2. Clean large skillet and fry bacon over medium high heat until browned, turning once. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1-2 T. drippings, and place on paper towels.

3. Stir water, sugar, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and seasoned salt into drippings. Add cabbage, and gently stir. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add kielbasa to the pan. Cook, covered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Crumble bacon over top, and serve hot.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fenway Park Cake

Here is Jack's 8th birthday cake! It's by far the biggest cake I've ever made, with 7 1/2 recipes of cake (four and 1/2 yellow cake; three chocolate). I used a 5-lb. box of fondant (though not all of it made it on the cake), and in the past couple of weeks I've gone through (gulp) 14 pounds of confectioner's sugar. Not all of it was for this cake, but still.

I learned a few things in the process of making this cake, some of which should have been obvious.

1. I should have made the fondant pieces days ahead of time rather than the night before to give them time to dry. The humidity of the day made the wall/green monster droop.

2. I should not freeze my yellow cake - I forgot this lesson from Jack's 4th birthday. The chocolate cake was in perfect condition, but whether it's the beaten egg whites or the pudding in the yellow cake, it deflates in the freezer.

3. Hershey's Black Magic Cake is fabulous! It's almost the same as the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake that I make with my changes, but it does use buttermilk instead of milk. Delicious, and comes out of the pan like a dream.

4. Homemade cake release rocks! Mix equal parts of vegetable oil, Crisco, and flour and keep in the pantry. I like to spray the cake pan first with Pam, then cover thoroughly with the cake release.

5. Here is my latest favorite buttercream. It's remarkably good, and it comes from the Magnolia Bakery:

Vanilla Buttercream

Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk (whole is best; cream is fine but will thicken the frosting)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pan-fried Gnocchi with Golden Tomato Sauce


I found some beautiful yellow tomatoes at the farmers' market on Saturday. They taste a little more delicate than regular red ones, but you can use them interchangeably. I took the idea for this meal from one of my favorite vegetarian websites, 101cookbooks. It's a simple sauce - you don't need to peel the tomatoes. This recipe depends on fresh tomatoes, so I'd recommend making it soon before they go out of season.

We all loved this: fresh, bright sauce, crispy, crunchy gnocchi, and fragrant basil made for a great late summer supper!

Pan-fried Gnocchi with Golden Tomato Sauce

1 16 oz. package gnocchi, cooked according to package instructions
5 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 lbs. yellow (or any good red) tomatoes - cored, seeded, and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
Fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Parmesan cheese

Pan fry gnocchi in two batches, using 1 T. of olive oil for each batch. Stir occasionally until gnocchi is golden brown. Set aside.

Put remaining three tablespoons of oil in a pan with garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper. Heat over medium heat, stirring as needed, until garlic starts to turn golden - about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes to the pan and simmer a few minutes, until tomatoes start to break down.

To serve, ladle some sauce onto plate. Top with gnocchi, grated parmesan, and basil.

Serves 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes




These are simple carrot cake cupcakes with pineapple and cream cheese frosting. They are topped with pineapple "flowers" - thin slices of fresh pineapple dried in the oven. It takes a while to dry the flowers, and they need to be sliced very thinly. But they look lovely, and the dried pineapple is delicious!

Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes

Pineapple Carrot Cake
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 c. self-rising flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
2 cups firmly packed grated carrot
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple

Pineapple Flowers
2 T. sugar
2 T. water
12 wafer thin slices of fresh pineapple

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
4 T. butter, softened
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 t. finely grated lemon peel
3 c. powdered sugar

1. Make pineapple flowers. Heat water and sugar in a microwavable cup for 1 minute, until sugar dissolves. Brush syrup onto both sides of the pineapple.

Put a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet, and place pineapple slices in a single layer on the rack. Bake at 250 for two hours, flipping pineapple after one hour. If your slices are very thin, they will dry more quickly.

As soon as the edges are brown and they look like a flower, remove them from the drying rack. Carefully shape them into flowers and dry over an inverted egg carton.

2. Turn oven temperature to 350. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper baking cups.

3. Combine oil, eggs, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl; stir until combined. Stir in carrot and pineapple.

4. Divide mixture among baking cups.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Turn out onto racks to cool.

5. Make lemon cream cheese frosting. Spread on top of cakes and decorate with pineapple flowers.

Salad with Fennel, Apple, Mandarin Oranges, and Pomegranate

This salad was a great counterpoint to the rich cassoulet. It's sweet and refreshing and would be an excellent choice for Thanksgiving or even Christmas. Pomegranates are out of season, so I substituted Craisins. They were good, but the juicy crunch of pomegranate seeds would be even better. You can use whatever kind of lettuce you like; I used a mix of Romaine and escarole. Just stay away from tender baby lettuces - you want the crunch of something heartier.

Salad with Fennel, Apple, Mandarin Orange, and Pomegranate

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, minced (can sub grated onion)
1/2 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
1 large fresh fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, very thinly sliced
1 8-ounce Fuji apple, halved, cored, cut into matchstick-size strips

6 cups trimmed arugula, Romaine, or escarole leaves
2 mandarin oranges or tangerines, peeled, each cut crosswise into 3 slices
Pomegranate seeds

Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Combine fennel and apple in medium bowl; mix in 3 tablespoons dressing.

Place arugula in large bowl. Add fennel-apple mixture. Toss, adding more dressing to taste. Divide salad among 6 plates. Garnish each with 1 mandarin orange slice and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Friday, August 20, 2010

French-Style Crudités with Blue Cheese Dip

According to this site, vegetables and dip in France are a bit different. The vegetables are often untrimmed - the carrots and celery have leaves attached, etc. Also, the vegetables are tossed with a vinaigrette before you dip them into a sauce. The vinaigrette makes a huge difference in taste - it adds another layer of flavor other than just the dip. Of course, it's a bit messier to eat, though the French wouldn't eat with their fingers anyway! If you don't want to make the vinaigrette from scratch, try tossing vegetables in your favorite dressing before serving with dip. And think outside the usual veggies: in addition to grape tomatoes, carrots, red bell pepper, and celery, I also used lightly steamed green beans, radishes, and sliced zucchini.

Crudités with Blue Cheese Dip
Assorted vegetables, cleaned and sliced (lightly steam cruciferous vegetables like green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower)
Vinaigrette

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon honey

Dash of grated shallot (maybe ¼ small shallot, if that) - I used a bit of grated onion

Salt and pepper

Blue Cheese Dip

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup crème fraîche (I used sour cream)

1 clove garlic, grated

Salt and pepper

1. Put all the vinaigrette ingredients into a mini food processor, and whirl until emulsified. (I shook the ingredients in a jar.)
2. Trim the vegetables as desired, and toss with just enough vinaigrette to coat.
3. Stir all the ingredients for the Roquefort sauce together, and decant into a decorative bowl.
4. Arrange the vegetables in a mason or jam jar or bowl, and serve alongside the Roquefort sauce.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Catherine's Birthday Dinner



It was Catherine's birthday tonight, and I decided to try something I've wanted to make for a while: cassoulet. I know that making French food for Catherine is a bit like taking coals to Newcastle, but I've never had cassoulet and wanted her opinion. I didn't make the traditional, three-day, pork rind-lamb bones-and goose fat version: this is yet another Pam Anderson simplified and slightly Americanized version. Cassoulet has many different versions, but it's basically a slow-cooked stew of meat and beans. Catherine liked the bread crumb topping, which is apparently not traditional.

Since cassoulet is so heavy, I started with crudites in vinaigrette and a blue cheese dip and finished with a bright green salad. I'll post those recipes, along with the carrot/pineapple cupcakes we served for dessert, in another post.

Note: Cassoulet is a great choice for a fall/winter buffet, especially one where guests aren't eating at table. Everything is bite-sized, so there's not need for a knife. It can be made a day or two ahead of time and finished before serving - in fact, the flavors will be better if they have time to meld.

Cassoulet (adapted from Pam Anderson)

3 pounds boneless lamb or pork shoulder roast, cut into 11/2-inch cubes (I used pork)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound mild Italian sausages
1 cup water for sausages
1/2 pound kielbasa, cut into 6 pieces
1 1/2 pounds boneless duck breast halves (I used three duck legs)
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup full-bodied dry red wine
reserved duck fat
2 large onions, cut into medium dice
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, minced (I used bacon)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 (16 ounce) cans white beans, drained
3 cups fresh bread crumbs (process sliced bread in a food processor or blender)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place pork cubes in a bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, turning to coat.

Place Italian sausages, 1 cup water, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy roasting pan set over two burners. Cover with heavy-duty foil and turn heat to medium-high. Cook until sausages lose their raw color, about 5 minutes. Remove foil (reserve it) and continue to cook until water evaporates. Add smoked sausages and cook, turning frequently, until all sausages are browned, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut Italian sausages into bite-size chunks. Halve smoked sausages lengthwise. Set aside.

Generously sprinkle duck breasts/legs with salt and pepper. Reduce heat under roasting pan and add duck breasts, skin side down. Cook until fat has rendered and skin is mahogany brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Turn duck breasts over and continue to cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.
Remove duck from pan. Drain fat from pan and reserve. Slice each breast crosswise into 4 pieces. (I just shredded the meat.)

Return roasting pan to medium-high heat. Add pork cubes and cook, turning once, until a brown crust forms on two sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a large ovenproof pot; set roasting pan aside. Add broth mixture and wine to lamb and cover with reserved foil, pressing down so that it almost touches meat, then sealing foil around top of pot, leaving a small opening for steam to escape. Bring to a simmer and simmer for a few minutes to burn off alcohol. Seal foil completely, then cover pot with lid. Bake, without checking pot, for 1 hour and 15 minutes; meat will be very tender.

Meanwhile, reheat roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add enough reserved duck fat or olive oil to pan to equal 2 tablespoons. Add onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add bacon and thyme and saute to blend flavors, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and beans and simmer to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer cooked lamb and broth to roasting pan. Add duck, sausages, and enough water to make a soupy, moist casserole. You can let the cassoulet mixture stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

An hour before serving, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring cassoulet to a simmer.

Mix bread crumbs, melted butter, and parsley and sprinkle over cassoulet. Bake until crumbs are golden and stew is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, and serve.

Bubbles!


Here's the recipe for big, gorgeous bubbles that don't pop easily. I quadrupled it to have enough for the galvanized tub.

Bubbles
1 gallon distilled water
2/3 c. Dawn dish soap
2 T. glycerin (I found some at CVS)

Mix together. You can make bubbles by bending pipe cleaners into fun shapes, or try cookie cutters. For big bubbles, slip two straws onto a long piece of strong and tie the ends together. Use the straws as handles. I've also seen metal hangers bent into a circle, but that sounds a little dangerous.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Barefoot Contessa's Pan-Fried Onion Dip

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We didn't serve a meal at Ben's birthday party, but we had snacks. I made marinated cheese, strawberry fruit dip with strawberries and grapes, a mix of cheddar, pretzel, saltine, and multi-colored goldfish (to fit the water theme), and this dip from the Barefoot Contessa. It's an amped-up version of the old onion soup mix/sour cream version: richer and infinitely more flavorful.

Once again, though - it's rich! But that just means you'll eat less of it (truly). Isn't that what we say is the correct approach to eating - a little bit of something you love rather than a whole lot of something okay? It would certainly be fine to sub lower-fat dairy products and to offer vegetables along with chips. We're thinking the leftovers would taste good as a sandwich spread.

Be sure to caramelize the onions- they should be golden and brown - not pale, and not black. If you double the recipe (recommended unless you have a small group), cook the onions in two batches.

Pan-Fried Onion Dip (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients
2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (can reduce by 1-2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Directions
Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Drain and allow the onions to cool. Chop onions roughly (I used kitchen shears).

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or bowl and hand mixer and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies

I'll have to post a picture later, because each time I made a batch of these, I forgot to take one (they didn't last very long, either). I left the dough in the refrigerator and made one sheet at a time - better than making them all at once and having them go stale! You'll get about five dozen from this recipe.

If you like peanut butter cookies, these are fantastic - they have peanut butter, chopped peanuts, and peanut butter chips. A triple play of peanut butter! If you need some chocolate with your peanut butter, add a some mini chocolate chips or replace some of the peanut butter chips with chocolate ones. Personally, I prefer them with just peanut butter - if I want chocolate, I'll make these.

Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies from King Arthur Flour

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups chopped dry-roasted salted peanuts
1 1/3 cups peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or spray with Pam.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars and peanut butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each. Add the flour mixture, nuts and chips - stir until combined.


Bake right away or chill for later.

Scoop the mixture using a tablespoon cookie scoop on to prepared baking sheets and slightly flatten them. Bake until the centers are set and the edges are golden, about 12-13 minutes. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Greek Chicken

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A couple of weeks ago we had Greek Mythology week at our house. One night we had a Greek dinner, with Greek salad, Greek chicken, ambrosia (food of the gods), pomegranate juice (in reference to Persephone), and honey cake for dessert. The Greek salad was our usual favorite, but the chicken was new: garlicky, lemony, and outstanding. I made it a few weeks later for my in-laws and my father-in-law said, "I can't stop eating this chicken!". That's high praise for the lowly chicken, I think.

You can marinate the chicken for up to a day or as little as an hour. Try to loosen the skin of the breasts and legs to let the marinade really soak in.

I started the chicken on the grill, then when the weather turned stormy I finished it in the oven, basting it with additional marinade. You can roast it, grill it, etc., but I liked having both the charcoal start and still getting the juices from the chicken as it finished in the oven. I spatchcocked this chicken, but you can cook it whole if you like or cut it up into pieces.

Greek Chicken (adapted from allrecipes.com)

1 4 lb. chicken, whole, cut up, or spatchcocked

1/2 c. olive oil

2 lemons, juiced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 T fresh oregano or 1 t. dried oregano

1 T fresh rosemary or 1 t. dried rosemary

1 T fresh thyme or 1 t. dried thyme

2 t. kosher salt and pepper to taste

Put marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour into a gallon ziploc bag, add chicken, seal, and smoosh it around to combine. Marinate for at least one hour, flipping the bag from time to time. Roast or grill as desired.