Friday, December 21, 2007
Chocolate Therapy Challenge this month is truffles, and the first recipe to try for me is the easy oreo truffle. :) I first tried these about 2 months ago and mmmm...yummy...:) And simple! Well worth trying. (Visit Create Cakes for my friend's experience with truffles!)
Mint Oreo Truffles
8 oz cream cheese
1 package oreos
1 tsp mint extract
12 oz chocolate
1 tsp oil
Crush the oreos, use a food processor or just crush with a rolling pin when they are in a plastic bag. Beat the cream cheese until smooth with mixer, then mix in oreos until totally black, with no cream cheese showing. Refrigerate until firm and cold.
Shape into little balls, about a tablespoon of mix each, putting on cookie trays and then in the fridge to firm up and get cold again.
Melt the chocolate (semi-sweet chips or bars, dark chocolate bars, fancy candy chocolate, whatever is your favorite...even half chocolate/half andes bars if you want mint overload) in a double boiler, mix in the oil to make it a bit thinner and easier to use.
Have another tray with parchment paper ready, put a ball of filling in the chocolate, cover with melted chocolate, lift out with a fork, hit on edge to shake off some of the extra chocolate, place on parchment paper by scraping off fork with a small knife. Repeat with other balls, melting more chocolate if necessary (I used about 24 oz). Put back in the fridge to firm up and get cold.
If you want, melt a different colored chocolate and drizzle on the top for decoration.
Eat, share, enjoy!
(Note, I don't think you can put them in the freezer, cream cheese does NOT do well with the freezer, which is why you need a little bit of fridge space, or a cold garage or snow outside... :) )
I got 50 truffle balls, others have gotten more, it will depend on the size you make them, and how much of the filling you eat first!
(NOTE: Because of the cream cheese, these must be stored in the fridge too. But after they harden up, you can move them to a more compact storage than the trays...if they last that long.)
Monday, December 17, 2007
The turkeys were in a fight over who was better, the brined than fried turkey or the brined than roasted in the oven turkey...The winner on taste was the roasted turkey. The meat stayed much more moist and delicious. The fried turkey skin is awesome, but the meat was a bit more dried out. The look of the fried turkey is more beautiful maybe, but roasting just produced better tasting meat!
We had free range pastured turkey this year and you can really tell the difference. The legs were so much bigger! You can tell these turkeys ran around and had a good time. :P
In the shot of most of my guests eating, notice the guy in the back with the giant turkey leg! It was a great prize, the drumstick on these turkeys! Just like in medieval movies where they show large sticks o' meat.
In other dishes, we had the traditional mashed potatoes & gravy, our macaroni salad that I posted about before, traditional stuffing, orange rolls, dinner rolls, cranberry-orange relish, a butternut squash soup & the sweet potato casserole. In new adventure dishes, we had a wilted spinach salad with radishes & oranges and a warm vinaigrette, roasted green beans & carrots with a basalmic honey sauce.
For dessert there was pecan pie, fudge pecan pie, spiced pumpkin cheesecake and apple cranberry pie. I really love Thanksgiving! Writing about it makes me sentimental and hungry. Mmmm...pie... :) Here are a few pictures of foods to make you hungry too! :)
Monday, December 10, 2007
Nava Atlas writes great cookbooks with great recipes. The Vegetarian Family Cookbook is wonderful. Simple, great tasting, kid-friendly...what's not to like? She also does a monthly newsletter from her website with scrumptious seasonal recipes. I checked it out again from the library and have been enjoying it! :)
Creamy Enchilada Casserole
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 16-oz can vegetarian refried beans
1/2 cup mild or medium hot bottled salsa or 4-z mild green chiles
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/4 cups milk, rice milk or soy milk
2 Tbsp white flour
1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack or other non-dairy white cheese
8-10 corn tortillas, cut in halves
1 scallion, thinly sliced
salsa for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Oil your 9x13 pan or 2 qt casserole
Heat oil in medium skillet, add onion and saute over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and saute until onion os golden. Stir in remaining filling ingredients and cook unitl well heated thru.
Heat 1 cup of milk in small saucepan, dissolve flour in remaining milk .Whisk into saucepan, then sprinkle in 1 cup of cheese. bring to gentle simmer, stirring frequently, and cook until thickened.
Line pan with a single layer of tortillas, pour in filling and spread evenly over tortillas. Cover with remaining tortilla halves.
Pour cheese sauce evenly over tortillas, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Sprinkle scallions over the top. Bake 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Serve at once, pass around salsa for topping if desired.
N.B. I used flour tortillas, we don't like corn ones in our home, it worked fine. This recipe was delicious, and has possibilities for improvization too. :)
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Checking out the recipe book Beggars Banquets that I saw on another blog, I found this recipe that sounded fun. It took some interpretation on a few of the ingredients, but resulted in a successful delicious dinner for our family. My boys ate it up with relish and DH thought it was wonderful.
I used broccoli instead of cucumber because of family preference, the book suggests using whatever vegetables are cheapest/in season at the store. The hoisin sauce is the real flavor. :)
Chinese Noodle Bowl with Bean sprouts, carrots and peanuts
12 oz ground pork or diced firm tofu
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce or to taste, with extra for tossing noodles if desired
5-6 Tbsp hoisin sauce (or more, to taste)
2-2.5 oz water
4 oz bean sprouts
1 lb dried Chinese egg noodles (I used ramen type noodles)
2 tsp toasted sesame oil, to taste (optional)
3-4 Tbsp roasted peanuts
1 carrot, julienned
1 cucumber julienned
2-3 Tbsp coarse chopped fresh cilantro
Stir fry the pork or tofu w/garlic and ginger in the oil for 6-7 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in half the onions, the sugar, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. Remove pan from heat and stir in water, then return to heat and warm on medium heat. Remove from heat, and add bean sprouts
Cook noodles in rapidly boiling salted water until just ender. Drain and toss with sesame oil then serve straight away, topping each portion with some of meat sauce, onions, peanuts, carrot and cucumber and cilantro. (Or mix it all up and then serve, which is what I did.)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
This recipe is a family favorite, and a holiday or large party standard. It is a recipe that originated from a TV show on the Food Network, though I don't remember which one.
My DH immediately started playing with the recipe and it is pretty different from the original now. It is delicious because of the way the spices play together with the ingredients, and that is mostly the same as the original recipe. Most of the work is in chopping up ingredients. Yes, it takes more than a day to make correctly, but it is worth it.
Mike's Macaroni Salad
1 (16-ounce) package salad macaroni (or ditali pasta)
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup yellow or white onion, diced
1 cup medium cheddar, diced
1 cup Swiss cheese, diced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano
1 cup sweet pickles, diced (bread 'n butter work well)
1 cup ham diced
1 can drained sweet peas
1 to 2 tablespoons Lowry's garlic salt
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise/miracle whip (a 50/50 mixture is best)
Add 2 quarts of water to a medium stockpot and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until it is al dente, approximately 9 minutes. Do not overcook the pasta or it will fall apart when the salad is tossed together. Rinse macaroni until cool. Drain well and let it dry out slightly.
Add pasta to a large bowl. Carefully fold in celery, onion, cheddar, Swiss cheese, Parmesan, pickles, ham, and sweet peas. Refrigerate the mixture, uncovered, overnight (the flavors are much better if overnight) (refrigerate at least 2 hours).
Mix the garlic salt, minced garlic, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard and celery salt together. Add to salad. Fold in 1 cup of mayo/miracle whip mixture to start. Add up to a 1/2 cup more of mayo/miracle whip if needed. Refrigerate again for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
We almost always double the recipe for a party, to make sure there are adequate leftovers. :)
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I decided this time to try and adjust it to a slow cooker recipe for easy prep in the morning, and it worked out wonderfully with very little modification.
Coconut Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound chicken breast tenders
2 large shallots, finely sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion
2-1/2 teaspoons Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (1/2-inch piece size)
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper; sauté in Dutch oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until center is no longer pink. Remove chicken and cover.
Add remaining oil to Dutch oven. Sauté shallots and red onion for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle in curry powder, crushed red pepper and sea salt. Add sweet potatoes and coconut milk; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 10 minutes.
While sweet potatoes are simmering, dice cooked chicken.Add chicken to sweet potatoes; simmer an additional 5 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Trying this soup was reminiscent of the first time I had a good butternut squash soup. It was an eye opening experience. The seasonings and flavors of this apple chestnut soup really make it an experience not to be forgotten. Yum.
Apple Chestnut Soup
1 lb chestnuts in shell (3 cups), scored and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
4 Tblsp unsalted butter
2 c. finely chopped onions
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled & chopped
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large apple, such as mutsu, winesap, gala, or golden delicious, peeled, cored & chopped
4.5-5 cups stock or water
2/3 c half-n-half or heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
maple syrup for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread soaked chestnuts on rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the shells crack open and you can easily peel away the skins, 45-60 minutes. Wrap in a clean towel and steam until cool enough to handle, 5-10 minutes. Pull away the shells, then the skins, briefly return to the oven any that are difficult.
In 4-5 quart dutch oven or other heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat and let it cook until it has turned golden and ceased to sputter, about 5 minutes. Add onions, sage, ginger and 1/2 tsp salt, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, and adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the onions from browning, until the onions are golden and meltingly tender, about 15 minutes.
Add potatoes, parsnips, apple, chestnuts, and stock or water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, simmer until vegetables are tender enough to crush against side of pot, 25-30 minutes.
Using immersion blender, or working in batches with regular blender, puree soup until smooth. Blend in cream if using and thin with more stock or water if desired. Transfer to saucepan and reheat, seasoning with salt & pepper and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
It was also nice to have a plan for breakfast, it made mornings easier. I never had to run to the store all week, I had everything I needed, thanks to the time I had put into planning. Hopefully I can get faster at that planning, it is worth it.
What I really take away from this week is that it is okay to spend $100+ a week on my family groceries, when I have a plan. I am still coming away from student land where we ate spaghetti most nights to keep costs under $50 a week. This was about having abundance, but with a plan, so that it wasn't excessive or expensive, and it was wonderful.
What I actually cooked/served each day this past week: (compare with my original plan).
B: German Pancakes
D: Swiss & Mushroom Quiche (Moosewood Cookbook)
Des: Chocolate cream sandwiches cookies
B: oatmeal porridge
D: Beet penne pasta (The Flexitarian Table) & Slow cooker apple pork roast
Des: Slow cooker Chocolate Almond Cheesecake (Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker)
B: Cranberry orange muffins
D: ate out at Cheddars (due to melting rice cooker)
B: banana sour cream muffins
D:Slow Cooker stuffed peppers
Des: Chocolate souffle
B: Oatmeal porridge
D: Slow Cooker Corn Chowder & breadsticks
Des: leftover cookies
B: apples & breadsticks
D: Homemade Margherita Pizza
Des: Grapefruit Ice cream
Friday, November 9, 2007
Attempt #1 at this month's Chocolate Therapy challenge happened on Wednesday night with the stuffed peppers. I didn't make the creme anglaise sauce to go with it and I think it might of made a difference, I will be trying them again with it.
(Note that the photo is a minute or so after taking them out of the oven, they had already started to fall.)
The chocolate flavor was very light, the texture of the souffles was light and airy, (except for the parts that seem to have fallen, I think I needed to cook them longer. My ramekins are bigger and I have 4, so I thought I'd just make the recipe that way, but was getting nervous when the signs of readiness were finally showing at 38 minutes. They probably needed a few MORE minutes of cooking. (And the sauce.)
And I used the Hershey's Dark chocolate bars instead of a bittersweet baking chocolate and maybe thats part of the barely there chocolate flavor. So many variables. They were still good, but not as good as the chocolate cakes with liquid centers I have been making for several years for a good, easy but fancy looking, chocolate dessert.
Dark Chocolate Souffles
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Place chocolate and butter in medium bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup sugar, flour, and cocoa powder in small bowl. Bring milk and vanilla to boil in heavy small saucepan. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into sugar mixture to blend. Return mixture to same saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until thick paste forms, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Scrape mixture into bowl with chocolate and butter; stir until chocolate is melted (mixture may look curdled). Add egg yolks and whisk until mixture looks shiny and creamy. (Soufflé base can be prepared 1 day ahead. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and refrigerate. Bring soufflé base to room temperature before continuing.)
Butter eight 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups; dust with sugar. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites until frothy. With mixer running, gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, then salt; beat just until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of whites into soufflé base until well combined. Gently fold in remaining egg whites just to blend (some white streaks may remain). Divide batter among prepared dishes. Place dishes on rimmed baking sheet. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake soufflés until puffed above rim of dish, tops are flat, and edges are set, about 12 minutes. Serve immediately.
Ever buy something in bulk at a bulk store, and then realize at home that you did NOT need that much of it? I bought a big old bag of grapefruit last week, and then realized that I would never eat all that grapefruit! So I needed some good recipes to use it.
In August, Desert Candy did her Ice Cream challenge, and one of the flavors she did was Grapefruit. She did it with poppy seeds, and with half-n-half, so I guess I made a few changes.
Flavor of this ice cream is pretty good. It's sweet and then tart. Different! Great texture, stays soft for days for easy scooping. Not my favorite, but still good.
Grapefruit Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup grapefruit juice (pulpy is good)
1 tsp grapefruit zest
1 cup sugar
1. Place the grapefruit juice, zest, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occaisionally to dissolve the sugar. Let the mixture simmer over medium heat until it reduces by about a third and is slightly syruppy, about 7-10 minutes. You should have about 2/3 of a cup of syrup. Let syrup cool completely.
2. Stir the half-and-half into the cooled syrup. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least 3 hours please), then process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Add any desired additions, at the end of churning. Pack into containers and store in the freezer.
This is a family favorite/standard for me. Simple soup I can make in the slow cooker and finish up right before dinner with great flavor. The coriander really gives it something I think.
I forgot to take a picture, probably because I was so hungry and its a standard recipe to cook. Ooops!
Easy Corn Chowder
2 cans (14 ½ ounces each) chicken or veggie broth or equivalent
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen corn kernels
3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
Bacon or bacon bits for topping (optional)
1. Place broth, corn, potatoes, bell pepper, onion, celery, salt, black pepper and coriander into slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours.2. Partially mash soup mixture with potato masher to thicken. (Or use immersion blender in parts). Stir in cream if desired, cook on HIGH, uncovered, until hot. Adjust seasonings, if desired, Garnish with bacon if desired
I love stuffed Peppers. Love them. I'm not sure why, as my family doesn't. They like the filling, but not the container. Me, I love eating the container of my food. What fun! This recipe was a great twist on stuffed peppers and I had to try it.
Tuesday I started prepping it and put some wild rice in my microwave rice cooker to cook for it. Instead I ended up with this melted mess of plastic and rice, and an almost fire in my kitchen. So we went out to eat on Tuesday and Wednesday, after spending most of the day cleaning up, finally had the stuffed peppers.
These were really great. The filling was awesomely delicious. I really appreciated that they were a combo of rice, beans & meat instead of an all meat based filling.
Southwestern Stuffed Peppers (from Kalyn)
6 large red, yellow, orange, or green peppers
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
(less than 10% fat)
1-2 tsp. olive oil if needed
1 onion, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes and juice
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles with juice (Anaheim chiles, not jalapenos)
1 tsp. Ancho chile powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 cups cooked white rice
1 1/2 cups grated cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In large frying pan, brown ground beef well and drain off fat. Push ground beef to the side, add a bit of olive oil if pan seems dry and saute onion 3-4 minutes, until well softened. Add rinsed black beans, tomatoes and juice, green chiles and juice, chile powder, and cumin. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
While mixture simmers, cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the bottom of each pepper so peppers are flat on the bottom and will stand upright. (Some peppers might not need this.)
When mixture in pan seems dry, turn off heat. Let cool about 5 minutes, then mix in cooked rice and cheese. Stuff each pepper with the meat/rice mixture, pushing it down so peppers are tightly filled.
Place peppers in a dish small enough to hold them compactly and cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 10-20 minutes more, until tops are slightly browned and pepper skin can be pierced easily with a fork. Serve immediately.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The Flexitarian Table is a beautiful cookbook, organized by seasonal recipes. For fall, the beautiful meal of Chestnut Apple Soup & Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese and Walnuts stood out to me. There were some speed bumps, as I couldn't find the chestnuts (not at stores here yet), so I'll make the soup later this week. I made the Penne with the pork roast on Monday, and it was a great meal.
One of the fun parts of this dish for me was roasting the beets. I had never even heard of beets before my DH introduced them to me. He grew up eating them. Purple, and looking like they've been candied or something when they are cooked, the fact that they looked like an overgrown radish and turned into the candied appearance had me confused. But this recipe had me buy them raw and roast and peel them. How much fun! I like beets now for sure, my kids loved the "purple macaroni" and the beet greens actually tasted great in this wonderfully flavored dish. It was very fall appropriate.
I did omit the walnuts, DH is allergic, I'm sure they would have been good though. I also roasted & peeled the beets and prepped the greens the day before, making it a quicker, toss together recipe.
Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
It says that this serves 4, but it made a HUGE amount. I would half it next time for my family.
Look for beets with healthy greens (limp, torn leaves won't make for good eating.) If nice beet greens are not available, use 12 ounces of swiss chard or spinach in their place. Pecans can be substituted for the walnuts.
2 bunches beets w/greens (about 2 pounds), trimmed, greens reserved, and beets scrubbed
Sea salt or kosher salt
8 oz whole wheat penne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsley chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, wrap beets in foil and place on baking sheet, roast until they can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, about 45 minutes.
Wash and drain the beet greens, cut into 1/2 inch wide ribbons and set aside.
Unwrap the beets, transfer to a colander, and cool under cold water. Slip off skins and discard. Trim ends off the beets, and slice 1/2 inch thick. Stack sliced and cut into 1/2 inch wide sticks.
Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook until al dente, about 8 min.
In a large skillet, (I recommend a dutch oven size!) heat oil over medium heat until it shimmers, Add garlic, tarragon, and pepper flakes, cook stirring until garlic is lightly colored, 1-2 min. Add beets and greens, cook, stirring, until greens have wilted, 1-2 min.
Drain pasta, add to pan. Stir in goat cheese and cream and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately sprinkled w/ walnuts.
I left it on 10 hours (gone all day), and it was still fine, I just smushed the baked apples on my meat to help with moisture. Yum.
Apple Pork Roast
1 1/2 lb boneless pork loin, cut into 4-6 pieces or 6 boneless pork loin chops
4 medium apples, sliced (sweet, not sour apples, yellow delicious, gala, etc.)
3 Tblsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Place pork in slow cooker, cover in apples
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in bowl, sprinkle over apples. Cover, cook on LOW 6-8 hours.
Monday, November 5, 2007
My friend at Create Cakes posted a chocolate recipe every day of Chocolate week recently. Very delicious. One stood out as a must try soon for me, and it was these cookies.
What's not to love about homemade oreo type cookies? Mmmmm.
The only speed bump was in flattening the cookies for baking. The recommended cup was NOT working for me, and neither was a spoon. I ended up using the heel of my hand and it worked the best.
2 ½ C Flour
1 tsp baking soda
12 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
1 C plus 2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp water
2 C (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips melted
Sift flour and baking soda together, set aside. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 min. Add the eggs and water ad beat on medium speed until blended, about 20 sec. Add melted chocolate and mix until blended, about 5 sec. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed for 15 sec. Scoop rounded tsp of batter on greased cookie sheets (or parchment paper). Using the bottom of a glass press each cookie. Bake at 350 until firm to the touch, about 15 min. Cool them completely on wire racks.
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
2-2 ½ C powdered sugar
Beat cheese, butter and vanilla until blended. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Spread a rounded tsp of filling on the bottom of half the cookies. Then top with the remaining cookies. Allow them to set for 2-3 hours in the refrigerators.
I LOVE cheesecake. It is the best. I borrowed a fun cookbook from a friend, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow cooker, mostly because of this recipe. A cheesecake in a slow cooker? I had to try it.
Guess what? It was awesome. Great texture, great flavor - if you like almonds...which DH doesn't. Very cool recipe.
Worth-the-Wait Chocolate-Almond Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate wafers
1/4 cup butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz silken tofu, drained
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz melted semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tsp pure almond extract
pinch of salt
Place a rack or trivet in a 6-quart slow cooker, Poor about 1/2 inch of boiling water in the bottom of the cooker, cover, and turn the heat setting to High. Lightly oil a 7-inch springform pan. (I used an 8-inch cake pan.)
To make the crust, combine the crumbs and butter in a mixing bowl, stirring with a fork. Spread the crumb mixture in the pan, and press evenly in the bottom/up the sides.
Beat the cream cheese and tofu together until smooth. Add sugar, chocolate, cornstarch, almond extract, and salt and blend until smooth. Pour evenly in pan. Cover w/ foil, making holds in foil for steam to escape. Place pan on the rack, cover and cook on High for 2.5 - 3 hours, until firm.
Take pan out of cooker, remove the foil and let stand until cool. Once cool, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. chill completely before removing from pan.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
When I was a vegetarian, one of the best cookbooks I found was the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. I'm not a strict vegetarian anymore, more a flexitarian, but I still love this cookbook.
Quiche is such a great dinner. I was going to make it yesterday, but instead made it today, and we had leftovers last night. This is a great quiche recipe, or "egg pie" as we call it in our house (makes it more palatable to kids I think.)
I was so hungry that I didn't take a picture of the whole thing, but started dinner and ate 2 slices before remembering to take pictures. Great flavor, delicate texture, good pie.
Swiss Cheese & Mushroom Quiche
1 10-inch pie crust (I use Martha Stewart's pate brisee for all my pie crusts.), pressed into a pie pan or tart pan
1 tsp butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced or minced
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of thyme
1/2 tsp dry mustard
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbs. flour
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated swiss cheese
(variations: try other cheese, use fresh tomato slices or fresh herbs in place of mushrooms or in addition to them.)
Preheat oven to 375.
Melt butter in small pan, Add onions, saute over medium heat, when they have started to soften, add mushrooms, salt, pepper, thyme, mustard. Saute about 5 minutes more and remove from heat.
Combine eggs, milk, flour in blender or food processor, beat well.
Spread grated cheese over bottom of crust, spread onion, mushroom mixture on top. pour in custard and sprinkle top with paprika.
Bake 35-45 minutes, until solid in center. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
(Makes awesome lunch leftovers too!)
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Just a few months ago while we were still a student family, our budget was $60 a week for the whole family. That being said, I significantly upped the budget when we moved to TX and got a real job, and the budget has been $100 a week. I decided that since my boys are still pretty young, I'd half that amount for them and set a $120 budget for the week.
I usually plan meals for a week at a time, but have lately fallen out of the habit. I also have never planned the breakfasts, lunches and desserts, just the dinners. So part of the challenge here for me was to plan these too. In truth, I really need to, since I have been skipping them lately. (And I'm a pretty big breakfast advocate, but I don't eat cereal anymore, and its been an adjustment).
I sat down and thought about what the week held for me and what I needed to successfully cook dinner every day for a week. (Another challenge for me, as I usually only cook 2-3 times a week and we eat leftovers the rest of the time.)
Then I made the shopping list. Planning the meals and making the list took several hours and I did not want to face the grocery store with kids after that, so I put it off until Saturday when DH was home. I first went to the local butcher (I love local butchers) and then the grocery store. I was feeling pretty good and only had a few things left on my list. I headed to Sams Club, needing a few bulk goods and figuring I could get the last few things there. Nope, not all of them. Plus I bought extra things (like I usually do). A bit depressed, I headed to Target hoping they would have the last few things. They had 2 things, but I was still missing 2. Arrggh! 4 stores, and I still didn't have all my things. Very irritating. I should have gone to Central Market after the butcher, and been done with it. I love Central Market, it is foodie heaven here, but it is also further from where I live. I went home and later that day convinced DH to go with me and the kids so I wasn't trekking to a 5th store alone. And we got gelato as a bonus. Yum!
The thing I noticed was all the voices in my head telling me I was spending too much money, or that I wasn't going to be able to do this. And yet, I felt empowered, knowing I had a weeks worth of meals at home, that would work with our busy week to come. I will be posting about each day's foods, here is my meal plan:
B: German Pancakes
D: Beet penne pasta & Apple chestnut soup (The Flexitarian Table)
Des: Slow cooker Chocolate Almond Cheesecake (Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker)
B: oatmeal porridge
D: Slow cooker apple pork roast
Des: Leftover cheesecake
B: breakfast pilaf
D: Slow Cooker stuffed peppers
Des: Apple Cranberry crisp
B: Cranberry orange muffins
D: Coconut curried chicken & applesauce
Des: Chocolate souffle
B: Oatmeal porridge
D: Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
Des: Leftover souffle
D: Homemade Margherita Pizza
Des: Grapefruit Ice cream
D: Swiss & Mushroom Quiche (Moosewood Cookbook)
Des: Chocolate cream sandwiches cookies
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I picked a recipe on Allrecipes with over 700 great reviews, figuring it must work out if over 700 people have rated it well. I also read the comments to get suggestions and tips for making it easier to do.
1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 quarts popped popcorn
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Line 2 shallow baking dishes (jelly roll pans) with foil and spray with cooking spray. Divide popcorn between them.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
Bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
In my house, we love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and make many batches each fall. They are like little pumpkin flavor clouds with bursts of chocolate in them. So delicious.
So when I saw these pumpkin butterscotch muffins at Confabulation in the Kitchen, I just had to try them. So yummy looking!
They did not disappoint. The flavor was great, they are delicious. A wonderful fall treat, and a fun provider of variety in our pumpkin consumption. :)
I used nutmeg instead of mace b/c that's what I had on hand and I used whole wheat pastry flour for about half of the flour amount, like I do in most recipes. As much fun as the pecans sound, DH is allergic, and loves pumpkin, so no pecans here. Oh, and I added 1/2 tsp cloves, but I don't think most people would like the cloves, which is why they are probably not in the ingredient list though they are in the directions.
So here's the recipe:
Butterscotch Pumpkin Muffins
1-3/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugars, ginger, mace, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Create a well in the middle of the mixture.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin and butter. Stir in butterscotch chips and pecans and pour into the well of dry ingredients. Fold together just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon batter evenly into greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Place on a rack to cool.
YIELDS: 18 muffins
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I have wanted to try croissants for years. Trying them with chocolate and with a friend for guidance is definitely a bonus.
Below is the recipe, intermixed with my commentary and thoughts while making them.
Pain Au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissants)
|3||cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus more for dusting work surface|
|1||tablespoon instant yeast|
|1/4||cup sugar (1 3/4 ounces)|
|1 1/4||teaspoons table salt|
|1 1/4||cups whole milk , cold|
|2||tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces|
|24||tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3 sticks), cut into 24 pieces|
|2||tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour|
|8||ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine|
|1||large egg , lightly beaten|
1. For the dough: Whisk 2 3/4 cups of flour together with yeast, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Place milk in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Add flour mixture and knead at low speed until ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes. Add butter pieces to dough. Continue to knead until butter becomes fully incorporated and dough becomes smooth, begins to form ball, and clears sides of bowl, an additional 5 to 6 minutes. (Dough should be sticky, but if more dough is sticking to sides of bowl than to itself, add remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as necessary.) Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Umm, figuring out how sticky to let it be was the hardest thing here. Also - do NOT stick your hand into sticky dough. Find another way to get it into the plastic wrap. Yikes!
2. For the butter square: at least 30 minutes.
Wow that is a lot of butter! But what an amusing process. I don't have a bench scraper, so I improvised with the back of a plastic knife and ruler. Forming the butter into a square in the plastic is easier said than done. Beating it homogenous with a few tablespoons of flour I don't know the purpose.
3. Lightly dust work surface with flour. Roll dough into 11-inch square. Place chilled butter square diagonally onto dough. Fold corners of dough up over butter square so that they meet in middle and pinch ends of dough together to seal them.
Part I am dreading that turned out to be amazingly easy. The dough rolled out silkily and didn't stick. Yay!
4. Using rolling pin, gently tap dough, starting from center of dough and going outward, until square becomes larger and butter begins to soften. At this point, start gently rolling dough into 14-inch square, checking often to make sure dough is not sticking and dusting with additional flour as necessary. Fold square into thirds to form long rectangle. (This method of folding is called a “turn” and resembles folding a business letter.) Starting from narrow ends, fold rectangle into thirds again to form square. You have now given dough 2 turns. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
5. Repeat step 4, giving dough 2 additional turns (for total of 4 turns) and chilling again for at least 2 hours.
Again, surprisingly easy. The butter is in pockets when I'm doing this - not evenly distributed per se, and I don't know if that's okay or not, but it looks alright! I was surprised at how easy rolling it out and folding it was. I did let it sit overnight after step 5. It got really large.
6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place chilled dough on floured work surface and gently roll dough into 20-inch square. Use pizza cutter and ruler to cut dough into 4 equal 10-inch squares. Cut each square into thirds to make total of 12 rectangles, each approximately 10 by 31/4 inches. Place 1/2 ounce (about 1 tablespoon) chocolate in middle of each rectangle. Fold each rectangle into thirds and place it seam-side down on baking sheet.
That is A LOT of chocolate! These should be pretty good with that much chocolate in them. I'm surprised that it only makes 12, when there are over 3 sticks of butter involved. Mmmm... these are going to be good! I didn't want to chop the chocolate, but was worried that the large pieces wouldn't work out, so I tried the mini food processor and didn't have too much luck overall so I have some chocolate powder and some chunks of chocolate in each croissant. Hope it works out!
7. Cover croissants loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature until puffy (they will not double in size), 45 to 60 minutes.
Another thing this recipe uses a lot of is plastic wrap! How did people make these before plastic wrap and parchment paper?
8. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Using pastry brush, brush croissants with beaten egg. Bake until croissants are golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time. Cool croissants on wire rack until warm, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Mine started smelling done and looking totally done at 14 min. I blame the egg wash, which I'm not a huge fan of. I left them in until 18 and they didn't burn (I think they needed it to set up the layers) but I was nervous!
Flavor? Amazing. Definitely fluffy and layery and delicate like croissants. The huge amount of chocolate seems like not much when eating it, though more would probably overwhelm it. It really melted down! Yummmm. I think making smaller ones next time might be nice. I could halve them easily. I even think it would be fun to try them without anything in them. Wow. I want to eat them all day! LOL.
I used a combination of Lindt dark chocolate and Hershey's special dark (since that's what I have on hand!) and it was great. Dark and flavorful. Mmmm. Good chocolate therapy.
Friday, October 5, 2007
My first memories of molasses is having it on a hot buttered biscuit. Beyond that it is an ingredient I use in whole wheat bread sometimes and also in gingerbread cookies. It is a unique flavor perhaps, strong and sweet.
When I saw the recipe for Chocolate Molasses cookies in the newspaper this week, I immediately wanted to try them. They looked fantastic, and definitely were.
Chocolate Molasses Cookies
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tblsp dark molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar (optional dusting)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave-safe glass mixing bowl on high power in 30-second increments, until almost melted. Stir to len well, then left cool. (About 1 minute total in microwave)
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Stir brown sugar, egg, molasses and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture, stirring until combined.
Place scant tablespoons of dough on ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 10-11 minutes until tops begin to crack and cookies are still soft to the touch. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to wire rack and dust lightly with confectioners' sugar. makes 36 cookies.
Source listed: Kansas City-Star
Monday, October 1, 2007
For those college siblings of mine, wanting to eat good food, but not having much time. How to look like an amazing chef, the easy way. :)
Buy a stack of fresh tortillas, a sweet potato & a jar of Patak's Curry Sauce (I like the Korma, Tikka Masala or Jalfrezi sauces). Also, some plain yogurt & frozen berries. (I'm assuming you have rice on hand at home.)
Now peel and dice the sweet potato and saute in oil until it starts to soften. Add the sauce and cover and simmer. Put the rice in the microwave or on the stove and cook it. Turn the oven on to broil and put the tortillas on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler.
Make the laasi, mixing up the yogurt, berries, a bit of sugar and water in the blender. (Recipe) Check on the tortillas (making them more like naan in the oven) and set the table.
In about 20 minutes you have an awesome dinner on the table! :) So yummy!
You could use chicken or beef, but sweet potatoes are cheap and taste wonderful in the dish. Watch out for steam in the puffed up "naan".
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I have never made orange marmalade, and since I didn't make any jam earlier this summer (I'm blaming the whole moving thing) I had to figure out some sort of homemade spread to make for my toast and sandwiches and such. But buying lots of frozen berries isn't exactly cost effective.
I actually love the taste of orange marmalade, even with the peels in, so that was a plus too.
I still had to buy oranges and lemons but I think that is a bit cheaper than the frozen berries. Next I had to peel the zest off of all those fruits. Fun! The lemons were considerably more cranky about being peeled than the oranges.
Next was peeling off all the yucky white pith and cutting the fruit into slices. Tip - remove the white stuff inside the fruit too. I forgot. D'oh! I was fishing it out later which was totally not effective.
Next, mix up the fruit and pectin and set aside. Boil the peels in water (or juice) until they are soft. Then add the fruit and heat up and add the sugar. Bring to a hard boil for atleast a minute and then put into jars for canning.
It went marvelously, but never set up completely. Marmalades are harder to set, and maybe I should have used extra pectin. Though some recipes use pectin from the seeds only, and not commercial pectin!
Marmalades can take up to 2 weeks to set. Mine never completely did, guess I needed more pectin. It works fine though as a sauce/loose jam. Tastes great. I plan to make another batch once oranges are really in season, maybe that will help!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
So I seem to benefit from doing the recipes after my friend at Create Cakes. I finally made this recipe and it was AMAZING. I loved it so much.
I made it with a blueberry coulis that was also amazing and made this dessert awesome.
The flavor was wonderful, not too rich and sweet, as the Chocolate Nemesis was sometimes for me, but a smooth, creamy, clean chocolate flavor. The coulis added a tangy complementary flavor when consuming the dessert that was simple and wonderful.
I had my doubts, since my dear friend didn't love it, but I love chocolate truffles much more than puddings, and the flavor of the chocolate really comes through in this recipe.
I did use the Hersheys Special Dark, just like I did in the Chocolate Nemesis recipe, and I think that was key. The flavor of the chocolate used is what you will get. Cooks Illustrated rated the Hersheys Special Dark highly in use for cakes, plus there is the cheap cost, so that's why I used it. :)
I was obedient and followed the recipe, checking the temperature with my little thermometer and even waiting until the next day to eat it. It was hard to not taste it right after it came out, especially since it was so soupy, but worth the wait. The blueberry coulis was tangy and fruity and complemented the chocolate really well.
The other thing I liked about this recipe is the quantity made. It makes one cake. It doesn't make so much that I'm trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers. Gone in a day, like a good dessert.
Without further commentary, here are the recipes:
The Ultimate Flourless Chocolate Cake
1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of 8-inch springform pan with parchment and grease pan sides. Cover pan underneath and along sides with sheet of heavy-duty foil and set in large roasting pan. Bring kettle of water to boil.
2. Beat eggs with hand-held mixer at high speed until volume doubles to approximately 1 quart, about 5 minutes. Alternately, beat in bowl of electric mixer fitted with wire whip attachment at medium speed (speed 6 on a KitchenAid) to achieve same result, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and butter (adding coffee or liqueur, if using) in large heat-proof bowl set over pan of almost simmering water, until smooth and very warm (about 115 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), stirring once or twice. (For the microwave, melt chocolate and butter together at 50 percent power until smooth and warm, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring once or twice.) Fold 1/3 of egg foam into chocolate mixture using large rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible; fold in half of remaining foam, then last of remaining foam, until mixture is totally homogenous.
4. Scrape batter into prepared springform pan and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until cake has risen slightly, edges are just beginning to set, a thin glazed crust (like a brownie) has formed on surface, and an instant read thermometer inserted halfway through center of cake registers 140 degrees, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove cake pan from water bath and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight to mellow (can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days).
5. About 30 minutes before serving, remove springform pan sides, invert cake on sheet of waxed paper, peel off parchment pan liner, and turn cake right side up on serving platter. Sieve light sprinkling of Confectioners’ sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder over cake to decorate, if desired.
|12||ounces fresh raspberries (or thawed if frozen), or blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries (fresh strawberries hulled and sliced, if using)|
|5 ||tablespoons granulated sugar|
|1/8||teaspoon table salt|
|2||teaspoons lemon juice|
1. In medium saucepan, bring berries, 1/4 cup water, 5 tablespoons sugar, and salt to bare simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally; cook until sugar is dissolved and berries are heated through, about 1 minute longer.
2. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor; puree until smooth, about 20 seconds. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl, pressing and stirring puree with rubber spatula to extract as much seedless puree as possible. Stir in lemon juice and additional sugar, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Stir to recombine before serving. (If too thick after chilling, add 1 to 2 teaspoons water.) Can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 4 days.