Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011...

I have not been blogging much lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been baking! Here is a quick update on my recent culinary adventures!


Even though John and I spent Thanksgiving this year in Las Vegas, I still had to make a batch of the infamous pumpkin cookies.
Our close friends hosted an early Christmas/White Elephant dinner party, and I brought the mashed potatoes and pecan pie:
John's coworker hosted an hors d'oeuvres party, so I brought this amazing concoction called CRESCENT WRAPPED BRIE. I am making this again tonight for New Year's. Perfect with this raspberry chipotle sauce a friend suggested to me! 
And these are fairly traditional peanut butter blossoms, but Bakerella gave me the idea to use dark chocolate Kisses. They were so much more delicious this way!

Our 2011 Christmas postcard! 
I have a lot more to share, but I don't want to waste it all on this quick recap post. 2011 was a rough year for a lot of people, but I have the highest of hopes for 2012. 


Have a safe and happy New Year, and remember:


"There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
---George Bernard Shaw

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scallops with Salsa d’Acciughe e Rosmarino

Okay... I guess I should be upfront and honest here, since you're going to find out in a few moments anyway when you read this recipe...
The translation of the above Italian = ANCHOVY SAUCE.
And, no, I am not a fan of anchovies. But this sauce is delish, especially on some pan seared scallops. Mine (pictured) did get a very good sear because I'm pretty sure they had phosphates added, even though I specifically asked the fish dude if they were and he said NO. They were still good, I just had to contend with a lot of milky water invading the pan. I learned how to make this sauce in a recent cooking class. 
  • 1 can of anchovy filets
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 T. rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil 
In a food processor, emulsify all of the anchovy fillets, then add the garlic, the zest of both lemons and the rosemary. Process until very well chopped, and then drizzle in the olive oil, slowly. Add the juice of at least one lemon. Then, taste and add more garlic or the juice of the other lemon if need be.

Spoon over the scallops, or put on any fish, pasta or bread!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

Hmm... I can't remember what recipe I used to make these, because I'm fairly certain I just sorta winged it. 
Cook up about a half a pound of ground turkey with a can of diced tomatoes and a small amount of quick rice (maybe like 1/2 cup cooked?)... Add pepper, garlic and parsley to taste, spoon into your gutted peppers. Add some breadcrumbs and parmesan on top! Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until tender. I think I was surprised that they ended up taking longer, but they tasted pretty good. 
 



crappy cross-section pic
I suppose the purpose of this post is to document the fact that I made these, and that they are a great healthy entree to consider. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Peanut Butter

Stock up now, folks!
A little birdie told me that prices are going up at least 30% next month. I bought a few jars yesterday, reduced-fat for me, and some "regular-fat" for my baking. I don't want to help spread any panic or fear of peanutpocalypse, but if you love peanut butter and don't want to pay through the nose for it, get yourself enough to last you a while. Peanuts, too! And maybe a couple Snickers bars to stash in your freezer, for "emergencies?"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich

These are "homemade" in the sense that nothing is homemade about them except the assembly. With more planning, I would have made them from scratch, but these were a "happy accident."

I couldn't decide which picture to post, so you get both. The ice cream is Trader Joe's french vanilla. The cookies are ginger spice. Slightly warm, because you(I) have no patience. The sandwich pretty much falls apart after the first bite, but you(I) don't care.*

Yum.

*You can put these on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer a bit to harden them up, but it depends on preference or when you're serving them. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beignets

I get fierce cravings. And, no, much to my mother's chagrin, I am NOT pregnant. I just get something in my head and have to have it.


Like that time about a month ago I could not get Beignets out of my head? I decided to make them at around 9 pm on a Tuesday night. What a delicious disaster that was! 
Believe it or not, I have actually made these from scratch before (back in high school, I think), but after our recent trip to New Orleans, I will forever use Cafe Du Monde's box mix. These people are professionals - why mess with perfection? 


True perfection would be hopping on a flight to NOLA and picking them up fresh, but these really hit the spot.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

A Rachel Ray recipe that is just too good. 
I made a few substitutions:
  • used ground turkey instead of ground chicken (easier to find).
  • used whole wheat tortillas because I couldn't find the spinach ones.
  • used low fat cheese. 
  • used more onion. 
  • I drizzled some taco sauce on the top layer before topping with cheese.
  • Garnished with light sour cream. 

This was so freaking good! I actually had a hard time going thru these photos because they're making me hungry! 
Note to self: Don't blog while hungry!

I found this picture online and had to add it as it seems so apropos to this post!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Greek Yogurt Popsicles

These are super easy to make. I can't remember when I decided I wanted to try to make a Greek yogurt popsicle - I think I had thought of it around the time I was reminiscing over Jell-O Pudding Pops, an old lunch-time staple of mine during middle school. 

I was so not a fan of Greek yogurt the first time I tried it. But once I added fruit and honey to it, I came around, and now we are BFFs. For this attempt, I used peach preserves from the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN instead of just peaches and honey. I wanted to find a use for some of my $12 jam besides just slathering it on some toast, which is what I'll surely be doing with the rest of it.  But anyway, you can go ahead and use some honey and whatever fruit you like - perhaps blueberries, Sara? I used a 6 ounce container of Greek yogurt plus my jam to make two popsicles, but I stuffed them in pretty good. Be careful when you pull these out of the molds - run them under some warm water and they should pop right out, but you know nothing ever goes perfect for me. They are creamy and yummy - a cool protein-filled summertime snack!


I have this crazy idea stuck in my head that I want to make Sangria popsicles... 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Julia!

I love her. She would have been 99 today!


"Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or
not at all."
-Julia Child


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jolly Lollies

I originally saw these lollies on a great blog called "The Decorated Cookie," and I wanted to try making them immediately!


All you do is arrange Jolly Ranchers in whatever formation you want (though, be warned, they will not come out perfect) on a parchment lined baking sheet, and melt in the oven at 275 degrees for 6-10 minutes. You need to keep an eye on them depending on your oven and how many Jolly Ranchers you use. While the candy is still melted, roll a candy stick on top so that it is coated by the candy, and let cool.


I used a bag of original JR as well as tropical. It was fun mixing the different colors/flavors together. Optionally, you can try crushing the candies and putting them together for a more melty-mosaic look, but I liked the color blocks the best.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lasagna

I've been making so much lasagna lately, John has taken to calling me Garfield. I was always more of a Heathcliff girl myself, but I accept this nickname along with my new-found love of lasagna. It is so easy to make! Who knew?
I make a few different varieties, but my favorite incorporates mushrooms, spinach and either ground turkey or Italian sausage. Depends on my mood. Ricotta, mozzarella and sauce are all lasagna standards. 
You just boil the noodles until al dente, and then layer away. I always start with some sauce in the bottom of the pan, then lay out three noodles, some more sauce, veg/meat and cheese, and so on. Your top layer is noodles, sauce and then you finish with some mozzarella and parmesan. 
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing (I only sometimes follow this rule). You really can not screw this up. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rhubarb Muffins

Healthy(ish) Rhubarb Muffins
    1 c. skim milk (or almond, soy, whatever your fav is)
    2 c. finely chopped rhubarb
    1/4 c. Splenda Sugar Blend (or substitute in 1/2 c. regular sugar)
    2 T. baking powder
    1/2 c. chopped walnuts
    1 c. whole wheat flour
    1 t. cinnamon
    4 T. vegetable oil
    2 eggs (I use eggland's best for lower cholesterol)

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, oil and eggs.
In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and walnuts. Add this mixture to the wet bowl and then add the rhubarb. Mix well and pour into greased or paper-lined muffin tins.
Optionally, you can switch out half the rhubarb for your fruit of choice -- apple would be nice. I sliced some strawberries and stuck a piece on top of each before baking. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 12. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Batch Cooking

I've still been cooking and baking, but just a lot of the same old stuff, so there's not been a lot of blog-worthy material. 
Recently, I went on a batch-cooking-binge, and prepared a week's worth of food in one night, including lots of oatmeal and a dozen meatloaf muffins. I had actually doubled the meatloaf muffin recipe, so I took half of the meat and pressed it into one of those disposable bread tins. After topping it with the meatloaf sauce, I covered it in parchment paper and then tightly wrapped it in foil, making sure to date it and write the baking instructions on top. If you want to cook a frozen, un-baked meatloaf, you have to put it in a 350 degree oven for an hour and a half. The meatloaf will be good in your freezer for 3-4 months, but this baby only spent about a month in mine. 
The meatloaf came out as juicy as ever and all I had to worry about was the sides.  
It's great having healthy foods at the ready so I don't have to worry about dinner on a busy night. Planning is key.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Carrot Cake Oatmeal


This oatmeal is really delicious and broke me out of my "dreading the morning oatmeal" funk. We all know oatmeal is good for us, but it can also be sort of bland and boring, depending on how it's prepared. Between this and the pumpkin pie oatmeal, I am no longer "afraid" of my morning oats.
I've made this variation twice and the pumpkin pie oatmeal once. Every time I make a big batch so I have plenty of oatmeal throughout the week. I've learned that it's better to add the raisins directly to the oatmeal mixture, instead of just as a garnish. If you add during the last minute of cooking, that is perfect. They plump up just a bit and help to sweeten the oatmeal. The second time I used both regular and golden raisins, which was nice. I have never made it using the nuts, as the recipe calls for. I would have the first time, but didn't realize until I was halfway through the recipe that my pantry was completely out of nuts. And since I didn't miss them the first go around, I decided to omit them the second time, too. Nuts are expensive these days.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Colorful Krispie Eggs

Has enough time passed for me to post another recipe debacle? I hope so! I might never forget this nightmare!
I had volunteered to make the rolls and a dessert treat for the previously mentioned Easter dinner at some friends' home. I thought these eggs looked so adorable, and combined three of my favorite things: rice krispie treats, chocolate and sprinkles! How hard could it be?
Apparently, harder than I thought. In my zeal to make a perfectly-formed egg (using plastic easter eggs as a mold), I must have packed the rice krispie treats in WAY too tight. Who knew? They seemed to pop out of the mold easily enough and looked great!
Then comes the dipping in chocolate step... I did some white chocolate, and some regular chocolate. After coating them in sprinkles I set them on some parchment paper to cool/dry before biting into one. 
And nearly destroying the thousands of dollars of dental work I've had over the last couple years. 
Seriously, I couldn't even cut one of these in half to get a nice cross-section picture like Rianne did on her blog. 
John tried to humor me and take a bite as well, but he knew right away that they were destined for the trash can. But not before I could snap a couple photos of my failure!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Honey Bunny

Sorry for the terribly corny blog title this time... 
The genesis? These are Honey Yeast Rolls, from Annie's Eats, and I made them for Easter dinner at a friend's house. And bunny rhymes with honey ... clever, right?


These rolls were pretty easy to make, even though I rarely have patience for continual kneading, resting, rising and waiting. They turned out pretty good, I think. Possibly a little dense, though it's hard to say because I'm not sure how Annie's rolls taste. I didn't use bread flour, so I tried to compensate with a little extra yeast. Next time, I will use bread flour. I will make these again. The honey in the dough and on top of the buns is subtle enough that they're not sickeningly sweet rolls like those Hawaiian rolls that I hate. You must slather butter on these. Suitable for any holiday or regular dinner. Enjoy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Florentine Toast Cups

So, I'm sort of repeating myself here, however, I wanted to try a new spin on an old favorite.

For these, I simply decided to whisk some eggs with some thawed frozen spinach. Two eggs and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of spinach made 3 cups. Shred some Jarlsberg Swiss on top and bake at 375 until set, about 25 minutes!

Feel free to add some more cheese to the egg mixture before pouring. More cheese is really never a bad thing. 
Of course I also had to make the bacon variety, in case these didn't turn out so well. Luckily, both were delish!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oopsie!

It feels as though I've been doing a LOT of failing recipe-wise lately. I have plenty of blogs planned for the near future, but I thought I needed to spread out some of my failures so that I don't look so entirely pathetic. Here is one failure, coming atcha!
I am not on a low-carb diet, nor any diet at all, really... but, I thought these low-carb Oopsie rolls sounded yummy and intriguing.
I think my fatal error was when whipping the egg whites. I whipped them to "stiff peaks," however I think me and Carbarella might have different opinions on what "stiff" means! Truthfully, I probably should have kept whipping, but I've been taught to not over-whip! Oh well, lesson learned. These were pretty inedible.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!


I've been hearing about chia seeds for a while now... when a friend's blog mentioned them, I jokingly said, "What, like the seeds you put on a Chia Pet?" Was I ever surprised to find out, yes, the one and the same! 

Weird!

Then, I was perusing another pal's blog, and found this genius recipe for what can best be described as a healthy tapioca, or, as I like to call it: Chia Pudding!

I made this last night for the first time and I loved it! It was perfectly sweet with just the coconut milk and a banana, but of course I needed to dress it up with a little non dairy whipped topping!
I never, ever would have picked these up off the store shelf if it hadn't been for the cool people I "know" via the internet. I'm excited to try some other recipes with chia seeds. They're a great source of fiber and Omega-3's.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

I made these for Fat Tuesday, so clearly I'm a little late posting this. We're still unpacking from the big move on top of our recent trip to New Orleans, which was fabulous.
This recipe comes from good ole Martha, and they turned out pretty good. I totally forgot the 1/3 c. buttermilk, which I'm sure sort of ruined the integrity of the doughnut, but I was still pleased with the outcome. 
Besides the failed pot roast, this was one of the first things I made in the new kitchen. It is weird having enough room and counter space to actually bake comfortably. It's also very weird (but mostly cool) to be able to toss all the dishes into the dishwasher as soon as I'm done. 
 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Beef Roast, Roast Beef, Pot Roast?

I don't know what happened... I thought I would roast some beef in the oven last night. I slathered it in olive oil, herbs and spices, and popped it in a 350 degree oven for a while -- until it was ~140 degrees internally, then I let it rest for 15 minutes.

What I got was tough, chewy, fatty meat... and blah. Even though it was fairly pink inside, it was still so tough. I don't cook a ton of beef, besides hamburgers and the occasional steak. But this kind of traditional meal eludes me. I followed a fairly simple recipe. I'm left wondering if this is just a bad cut of meat, or if I missed some crucial step.

I hate when things don't go as planned. This was to be my first "real" meal in the new kitchen, not counting the simple things I've already been making, like frozen turkey burgers.

Hmm... guess it's Mongolian take-out tonight.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Saying Hello!

As promised, I snapped a few photos of my new kitchen. Please excuse the quality... as with the old kitchen photos, I took them with my iPod. We haven't officially moved anything over yet, but we'll be doing that soon!  So here's some of the cool stuff I was bragging about.


<--The stove and built-in microwave. Oh, and speaking of the stove, check it out... TWO oven racks and a light inside!
          
                  


Here's a crappy shot of the sink and bar area, looking into the living room. Peek-a-boo!

And, finally, the pièce de résistance, the dishwasher! Can you believe it? 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Goodbye, Kitchen.

Goodbyes are hard. Even this one. As I'm packing up the apartment we've dwelled in for the last 4 years, I am surprised by my nostalgia over this "kitchen." In the past, I have not been shy about loathing this room. Oh, how I loathe thee. But, when it comes to saying goodbye to anything, I get a bit totally sappy.  Whenever I get this way, John helps by reminding me of things I won't miss about this apartment.


Things I Won't Miss About the "Kitchen:"

  • The unpredictable green oven/stove, with only one oven rack. This oven can't seem to bake a simple batch of box brownies in under 2 hours.
  • The garbage disposal that is constantly breaking. My landlord's son, upon taking over the building, finally replaced this for us. Three weeks later, it started making the most unpleasant noise, and I KNOW there is nothing jammed in there. Not my problem anymore!
  • The hand-me-down microwave. I mean, this thing works fine, but is nothing special to look at. The plastic over the numbers is coming off and it always looks dirty. Plus, it takes up a ton of counter space. The new apartment has a built-in microwave, thus eliminating the need for this one, and freeing up valuable counter space.
  • These dark, dingy cupboards. When we moved here we barely had enough stuff to fill one shelf, now they're constantly overflowing and needing reorganizing. The "pantry" cupboard above the refrigerator goes so far back that I'm constantly forgetting about food, and then this happens


The new apartment's kitchen isn't a whole lot larger than our current one. BUT, there are a few important distinctions: 
  • I've already mentioned the built-in microwave, but did I tell you there's a dishwasher? Oh yeah, there is! And it's not named KRISTEN!
  • The stove/oven is gas, which is really the only way to go. Our current one is gas too, but presumably this newer model actually works.
  • There's definitely more counter space. Perhaps a nice spot near the window for my buddy, Triumph! 
  • It also faces the living room with open air between the sink and the cupboards (if that makes sense), so I can see into the living room. Unlike our current kitchen which is basically just a hallway. 
  • Triumph being a little camera shy...
  • There's a higher counter on the side of the living room, presumably for putting some stools under it and using that as an eating area.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of the new place to share (yet). March 1st is our official lease start, though we will be moving stuff over the next few weeks. Since our apartment is currently in shambles, at least this time for a justifiable reason, I probably won't be doing a ton of baking before we move. 

Stay tuned for a "clip show"-style blog where I highlight some of my favorite or most memorable dishes made in this old kitchen!
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