Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving dessert. Many this year will, and have already, turned to canned pumpkin puree for their pies, or even worse-store bought. This is such a sad sequence of events, since it can be so easily avoided. Making YOUR OWN pumpkin puree is easy, and tastes so much better than a pie made with canned pumpkin. Also, if you can't find a pumpkin to use, use butternut squash. It tastes just about the same in this application; I personally think it is also a bit easier to work with.
Go ahead and enjoy.


Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 6 ounces gingersnap cookies
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 16 ounces Pumpkin Puree, recipe follows
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk


Directions:
Heat your oven to 350.
For the Crust:Combine the gingersnaps, brown sugar, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cookies are fine crumbs. Drizzle the butter into the crumb mixture. Pulse 8 to 10 times to combine.
Press the gingersnap mixture into the bottom, up the sides, and just over the lip of a 9-inch glass pie dish. Place on a half sheet pan and bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool crust at least 10 minutes before filling with the filling.
For the filling: Bring the pumpkin puree to a simmer over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt. Stir and return the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.
Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, and yolk until smooth in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the prepared filling into the warm pie crust and bake on the same half sheet pan until the center jiggles slightly but the sides of the filling are set, 45 to 50 minutes in an oven at 350. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 to 3 hours before slicing. Pie can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. Pie is best the day after it is made.
If you like whipped cream on it, just take 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream and place it in your stand mixer. Beat on high for about 3 minutes until thickened. Add in powdered sugar to sweeten (to taste), about 3/4 cup. Then add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until it has reached your desired consistency. Dollop on the pie and enjoy!


  • Pumpkin Puree:
  • 1 (4 to 6-pound) baking pumpkin, rinsed and dried
  • Kosher salt
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Slice a small piece of skin off the one side of the pumpkin so when laid on its side, the pumpkin will lay flat without rolling. Remove the stem and split the pumpkin in half from top to bottom, using a large cleaver and a mallet. Scoop out the seeds and fiber with a large metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Cut the fibers with kitchen shears if necessary. Reserve seeds for another use.
Sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Roast until a paring knife can be easily inserted and removed from the pumpkin, 30 to 45 minutes. Test in several places to ensure donesness.
Remove the half sheet pan to a cooling rack and cool the pumpkin for 30 minutes-1 hour. Using a large spoon, remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the flesh is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coming Soon to a Computer Near You!

I Just wanted to give you all a little preview of whats to come soon. First up is…
-Red Velvet Cake
This is one of my favorite cakes. It also might be the best kind that I make. Ya, get excited.
The next thing that will be coming up is Thanksgiving dinner. Since it is only me and my parents that will be here this Thanksgiving, I'm not making a whole Turkey.Instead, i am making a stuffed turkey breast. I made it a few years back and it was delicious. Here is the line up…
-Turkey Breast Roulade
-Green Bean Casserole (Everything from scratch!)
-Cranberry Sauce (No canned stuff here!)
-Mashed potatoes 
-Rolls 
-Creamed corn or Corn pudding (I haven't decided yet)
-Pecan Bars
-Pumpkin Pie
Every one always seems to have lots of left overs after thanksgiving. But, what are you suppose to do with all of that food? Well i am going to make a post about reusing thanksgiving leftovers. So, keep coming and checking it all out!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Many Faces of Soup II

Children are known for many things like being cute, throwing fits and loving macaroni and cheese. Many are not known, however, to love to eat broccoli (unless it is drenched in cheese or ranch dressing.) Many adults don't even enjoy broccoli. I think this is a shame. Broccoli is one of my favorite things to eat. Roasted with olive oil and garlic, or finely chopped with pasta, or even in soup, broccoli is delicious. The afore mentioned soup is what we are going to be talking about today. Yes, you read that right, i am blogging about Broccoli Cheddar Soup! Even if you are one that rejects broccoli's beautiful flavor, try this soup. Just try giving broccoli a chance.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
4 TBS of EVOO
1 med. onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic finely diced
3 TBS of butter
1/2 of flour
3 cups of half-and-half
1 cup of milk
2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 tsp of cayenne
112 oz of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 lbs of broccoli (chopped into bite size pieces)
2 cups of carrots, coarsely grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 TBS of EVOO in a large pot over medium/medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and salt&pepper to taste and saute for 6-7 mins. Remove onions and set in a small bowl. In the same pot add the rest of the EVOO and butter. Once as the butter has melted add the flour and whisk. (It will be really thick.) Cook for 3 mins over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the half&half, milk and the chicken stock. Bring to a bubble and cook for 10 minutes. Next, I add the reserved cooked onions, nutmeg and cayenne then blend (I don't like pieces of onion in my soup, but blending is optional. You could also blend after you add the broccoli and carrots added is you like a smooth soup). Next add in cheddar cheese in small handfuls and stir until completely melted in. After all the cheese is incorporated, add the broccoli and carrots. (Make sure that you dry off the broccoli after you wash it really well. Any water clinging to the broccoli will thin out the soup). Add more salt and pepper to taste. Bubble away on medium high heat until the broccoli is al dente, then serve! I like to eat this with a nice chunk of bread, but the choice is yours. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tres Leches Cake

Ingredients:
Butter or oil/spray to lube the pan
1 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
5 eggs
1 cup of sugar (divided-3/4cp+1/4cp)
3 teaspoons of vanilla
1/3 cup of milk
1 can of evaporated milk (you'll be using all but 1/2 cup of the can) 
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 pint of heavy cream
2/3 cup (approx.) of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract


Preheat oven to 350, Rub down a 13x9 pan with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Next is separating your egg whites from the egg yokes. Once as you have them separated put the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on high for 1-2 1/2 minutes, or until you reach medium to stiff peaks, then add the 1/4 cup of sugar and mix on low. Once as stiff peaks have been achieved, move egg white to a separate bowl and set aside. Next, take the egg yokes and 3/4 cup of sugar and put in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on med-high/high until pale yellow and falls back on itself in a ribbon like manner (like in the picture), about 5 mins. Once as it has reached this thick stage, add the milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and mix of medium. Then slowly stir in the flour mixture; then add in the egg whites. Be sure to carefully fold in the eggs white so as not to take away all the air bubbles from the whites. Now time to pour in the pan! Bake in a 350 oven for approx. 30-40 minutes. The cake may seem a little darker than a yellow or white cake but thats ok; It is going to get soaked with milk. You don't want it to be too soft, or else it cant soak up all the milky goodness! Once as the cake is done baking and has cooled, poke all over with a fork or toothpicks. This is creating passage ways for the milk to soak into. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, 3 tbs of the heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the evaporated milk (all of the can but 1/2 cup of it-if you use it all it gets a little too mushy esp. for my liking). Slowly pour the milk mixture all over the cake. Try to make it as even as possible. While the cake is soaking make the whipped cream! Make sure the remaining pint (one pint - the 3 tbs in the soaking liquid) of whipped cream is very cold. Pour it into your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment on high for 1 1/2 mins. Add in the last 1 teaspoon of vanilla, almond extract and powdered sugar. (Depending on how sweet you like things, you may want to add more or less sugar to the whipped cream) Continue to beat on med-high until think. Spread on the cake and stick in the fridge to chill. Chill for at least an hour, but over night would be even better so the cake has the opportunity to soak up all of the milk!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Apple Muffins

These are some of my favorite muffins to make, and with some many apples in season, it is a great way to use them up! When it came time for me to make these, I realized i didn't have enough vegetable oil. I decided I would just use EVOO and deal with the horrible taste, but to my surprise, they were delicious! They were moist and dense (but not too dense.) They were just right. I will definitely be making these again soon!

1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of apple sauce
3 cups of flour (i used a combination of white ap and whole wheat)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 cups of peeled, cored, diced apples (1/2-1inch pieces) (around 3- 4 apples. I used a combo of granny  smith and honey crisp)

Crumble (optional):
(these are not in exact measurements because it just depend on how much crumble you like)
-2 parts brown sugar
-2 parts flour
-1 part butter (cold, diced)
Mix the brown sugar and flour together and then cut in the butter (make sure to not let the butter melt)
Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin pan with paper liners.
Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for 3 mins on medium.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
With the mixer still running, pour in the oil and the apple sauce.
Slowly add in the flour mixture with mixer on low. Once as all the dry ingredients are combined in, add the diced apples. Don't be alarmed. The batter WILL BE THICK. It may also look like there are way too many apples, but don't worry. You are doing it right.
Line pan with muffin liners/cups and fill 2/3 full with batter. This is optional but the last step is to put around 2 teaspoons of the crumble mix on the top of each muffin.
Bake in a 350 oven for 20-24 mins.
Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Introducing: Mr. Alton Brown

On Monday, October 24 2011, I had the great pleasure of seeing the Alton Brown of Good Eats. Meeting him has been a dream of mine for years, but i never thought it would ever come true. When he announced that Good Eats was ending all my hopes of ever seeing him in person were crushed. Then, one day at the end of september or the beginning of october my mom said she had something to tell me. "I have a surprise for you!" I thought the surprise was going to be that i got to clean the kitchen, or cut the grass or something, but that couldn't be any farther from the truth. My mom had saw that Alton Brown was coming to Kansas city in just a few weeks! I was practically at the point of tears. I couldn't control my excitement.
When the actual day came, I couldn't focus on much of anything. I was too anxious for that night to focus on anything else. The event was to start at 7pm, but we got there at 5 to make sure we got good seats. When Alton first came out I couldn't believe it-There was Alton Brown! Right in front of me!
If you have never seen him live, you really should. He is so funny! He would poke his head in and do silly stuff while announcements were being made. He is a great storyteller. He never lost my attention.
When we first got there they gave us a card that we could write questions to alton on.

Most of the night was taken up with answering these questions. One of the questions some one asked was, "Do you think that cooking shows, like Good Eats, have changed the way Americans cook and what they eat?" Alton turned the question back to us since, asking if it has changed us and we all shouted back "Yes!" Ok all minus one man in the second row. All heads turned towards him. What was this man doing here if he didn't really believe in all of this? He then expanded on his shout of no saying, "People in America are pretty lazy and don't actually want to do the work. They just want to watch others do the work and receive the comfort from that, then go out and eat not actually do the cooking." This was an interesting concept that i hadn't really thought of before. Alton agreed that some people (of course not any of us that were there but you know the people "out there")  don't actually want to cook, but like to watch others do it.
        "You know, there really isn't that much that we have in common with one another. Groups have become some specific, and we have become and crackled society, and we can thank technology for that. Anthropologist have said that there are two things that every civilization and every people group have in common though. They want to laugh with one another, and they want to eat. Those are the two things that every person no matter how young or old want. To laugh and to eat good food. And cooking is a very comforting process, to watch someone pour love and care and create something delicous. It is a very comforting process to watch. And yes there are many Americans who want that comfort but don't actually want to put in the work for themselves so they will watch a cooking show and then sadly eat a frozen meal."
I thought this was such a inspirational statement(s). It's so true. Think about the best moments in your life. The times where you were the absolute happiest. They usually will include laughter or family or food, or all of the above. And the one thing that he didn't say that i think unites us all is a hope of something bigger than us. We all have a desire for there to be something more to life. Which that idea ties in with Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." I think it is so cool to see how there are so many parallels between food and Go. It's so cool.

Anyways, after talking and reading off some questions people had written in he asked for questions form the floor. Obviously, i took this great chance to talk directly to Mr. Brown. I decided to ask him what my first meat meal should be, since this next week i am breaking my year fast of meat. The dialogue back and forth took more than five minutes and would require way too much typing on my part to pen it all down. Besides, i am currently making apple muffins at the moment and only have a little while to be able to type before i have to pull them from he oven. Anyways…
I asked if i should make his chicken and dumplings or chicken pot pie. He thought that it was a horrible decision to go with chicken for my first bite of meat but i want to make sure i don't get sick when i first eat meat. Anyways, after making an analogy of vegetarianism to terrorism and talking with me about my mission trip to Greece, and talking about how many pairs of glasses he owns, he made the decision. I am to eat Chicken Pot Pie for my first bite of meat. (check back next week for the recipe and reviews and pictures when i make this!)
So many things happened that night to write it all down, but there are a few more things that must be shared. We got in line for him to sign our cookbooks (and my planner), which only took about an hour and a half. While we were waiting, I was editing my letter that i had written him. In the letter, i thanked him for Good Eats. It has taught me so many things over the years. The great thing about Good eats is that it evolved from just a TV show to an idea. The idea that we do not need to be slave to a recipe. We can actually understand the food that we are working with. We can be in control of the food we are working with instead of it controlling us. Ideas never die, and by that Good Eats will live on through the inspiration that it has given us all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Many Faces of Soup


Oh, the many possibilities of soup. It's like a little package of warmth, as if the sun packaged itself up into a little bowl and gave you a hug. This is especially a big deal for Missourians. It seems that every year the sun dislikes coming our way and leaves us without sunshine for sometimes months at a time. After only 15 years here, I dread winter and the cold, bitter, darkness it brings. But Missouri's lack of time with the sun in the winter is another matter. We are talking about soup. Soup is a great family friendly and time friendly dish. While it is simmering away on the stove you can start on the dishes, or sit back and relax as you watch your kids or husband do the dishes. (What? That doesn't happen? Well it was a nice thought.)
Anyways, the tomato plants that we have at my house are a little confused. They just started blooming a few weeks ago and are now in full production. We picked about 30 vine ripened tomatoes of the vine yesterday. The whole thing seemed odd to me. I had to wear a coat to pick tomatoes… Oh well. I am fine with receiving fresh juicy tomatoes at this time of year. It's all fine by me! So what can a girl do with all of these tomatoes, you ask? Why, make tomato soup of course!

Fresh Creamy Tomato Soup
3 TBS of Butter or EVOO (I use a half of each)
2 Large Onions, diced
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, diced
2 medium Carrots, diced
1/4 tsp of Crushed rep pepper flakes (more or less if you like)
1 tsp of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
16-17 Fresh medium tomatoes
2 TBS of Tomato Paste
1 TBS of Sugar
1 tsp of dried Parsley
1 1/2 tsp of dried Basil
2 Bay leaves
1/4 tsp of dried Oregano
1/2 tsp of dried Sage
1/2 tsp of Rosemary
1 cp. of Milk
1/3 cup (or more) of grated parmesean cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large pot, heat the 3 TBS of oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute over medium-medium high heat for fifteen minutes. Next, add the the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the herbs and milk, recover with the lid and cook for another 25 minutes over medium heat. (Note: Your taste buds may be more sensitive to certain flavors or herbs. Don't be afraid to taste it and add more or less than called for in the recipe. Don't worry, the kitchen police won't give you a ticket for test tasting the soup.) Next is blending the soup. My personal method of choice is the immersion blender. Now you could of course use a food processor or a food mill (which is great because then you don’t have the tomato peel in the soup), but with these methods it requires you to move the soup. If you do use a method which requires transportation of the soup, just be careful and use common sense. (Don’t forget that the soup IS hot people!) Return back to the heat and let simmer over low until ready to serve. (Note: The longer you let it simmer away the more the flavors will mingle together.) Right before serving stir in parmesan cheese, which is optional but for my taste buds, it's a must. Stir with a little extra shredding of parmesan on top and a nice chunk of warm bread. Enjoy!




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alton Brown

Yes Ladies and Gentleman, you did read that title correctly. I said Alton Brown; and I am going to see him in less than two weeks! He is coming with Rainy Day books to the Unity Temple on the plaza. He is going to talk about his new book, "Good Eats: The Later Years." I am so excited that I can barely contain it. I'm actually going to be meeting one of the most influential man in my cooking experience. (Check out my first post -What I'm all about) After watching and studying everything he has taught to the viewers of Good Eats, I have discovered a new respect and passion for food. Three times every day we have the opportunity to take our mouths on an adventure with flavors from all over the world. So, why waste any meal on the same plain old boring when it can be exciting and different?
I will be sure to take notes when I go to see him and share them all with you. Check back in a few weeks to hear all about it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oh Nashville...

Oh please forgive me diligent reader. I know, I know i have not blogged in months but I do have some reasons why: 
-School- This could be a good enough excuse in and of it self since i am taking advanced classes but oh no there is more.
-Forensics- This is a class and an activity. This is the week that we host our tournament which means there is a lot more things to do and a lot more stress and pressure being passed among us. We have tournaments every weekend that go from approx. 1pm- 10 pm Friday and 7am- 5pm on Saturday.
-Church- I’m to trying to use this as an excuse, or as a more holy-er than though statement but i do spend a lot of time at church and my youth group and i am also on student leadership
-Drama team- I am the vice president of our youth groups drama team, which meet every week. We do skit and mimes for out youth group.
-Babysit- I baby sit for a couples discipleship bible study. I have fun but it takes a whole lot of energy. I think I’ll blog about her after I update the blog on everything else. I’ve been trying to decide what i could make her that wouldn’t be a mess and wouldn’t get her to wound up. Hmmm... I’ll be thinking about that.
-Discipleship- I do a bible study before youth every week with three other girl and our leader Carrie.
-Modern Language Club- I am a member of modern language club at school. It’s really fun and celebrates world cultures.
Sophomore Rep- I am sophomore representative at my school. 
Mud throwers- this is an after school club where we make ceramics/pottery.
FCA- I am apart of the leadership for FCA which is the Christian club that wehave at our school
Greece-Greece is coming up really close and i have been doing different fundraisers to raise money but I am getting really close to my goal!
And, if that is not enough I was nominated to be a South’s representative at these two leadership camps over the summer and I have to write an essay to turn in for them to decide on who South will send to represent the school.
To sum it all up, I’ve been a little busy. Whenever I am in the kitchen, i am usually on a strict time limit and don’t have the time to stop and take pictures and write down recipes as I am going along. So I am not going to share any new recipes with you write now but share some of my favorite place i like to go. Particularly, my favorite food places to go in Nashville TN! 
You Can’t Miss These
Marche
If you plan on going to Nashville or even if you are going to be just driving through, you can’t forget to stop by Marche (or Margo). Marche and Margo are sister restaurants both funded around the idea of using fresh local food to make the best tasting seasonal food possible. Both of their menus change week to week depending on what is in season. Everything Is always delicious, but My favorite meal to eat here would have to be brunch. I also do have a soft spot for their french toast. Any version of it is always good, but my favorite is their french croissant french toast. It is absolutely to die for. Their crepes and salads are always splendid as well. 
Check them out! http://www.marcheartisanfoods.com/
      
Mas Tacos
This place is off the hook. I could eat here for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then eat another taco for dessert and not get tired of it. It’s just that good. While the out side of the building does look a little rough, once as you take your first bite of that taco all your doubts will be washed away. When you walk in you see a cute array of mismatched furniture in a small but inviting space. They usually have 3-5 tacos every day, maybe a soup or bean dish or elote (corn). (And if they have corn you need to order it.) They also make their own salsas and sauces which are always superb. They offer homemade aqua frescas that are refreshing and unique; Also on the plus side, tacos are usually around $2! It has sort of become tradition to eat here the first night we go to Nashville and you should make it yours too. You won’t regret it. Follow them on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/mastacos
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
The foodie in you will just about have a heart attack upon entering this store. Upon entering, you will be met by the warm sweet smell of sugar and the coolness of cream. My favorite is goat cheese and cherries, or the Ugandan vanilla. Their vanilla ice cream isn’y plain at all but packs a punch. You definitely don’t want to miss trying out some of their delicious combinations.
Fido 
Fido has long had a place in my heart. This whole section of town is one of my favorite. Sprinkled all across the street is cute shops and local restaurants that will keep you coming back again and again. Fido is a great hang out spot. On several occasions this has been where I chilled while waiting for my brother to get out of a meeting. Their coffee is delicious and their cake is my favorite hands down. Plus, they have las paletas!
When in need of cafeine, a snack or light lunch stop here! http://bongojava.com/fido.php

Las Paletas
These crazy flavored popsicles are worth every penny. (and available at Hot & Cold- which is right next to fido!) They don’t have an official website but here is some info. http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/47/510992/restaurant/Melrose/Las-Paletas-Gourmet-Popsicles-Nashville
Burger Up
This is a really neat place. They use local beef to make their juicy one of a kind burgers. They have a great turkey burger and a great veggie burger too. Their fried mushrooms and their fried pickles are a must try. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of pickles (like me) or mushrooms, this concoction is a win.
Check it out at http://www.burger-up.com/

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fettucini Tomato Alfredo

Ingredients:
-2 Tbs of Butter or Olive oil (or a mix. of both)
-3 cloves of Garlic, minced
-1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
-2 large Fresh Tomatoes, finely diced (No Canned Tomatoes Here!)
-4 oz of Cream Cheese
-1/2 cup of Milk
-1 small or 1/2 med head of Broccoli (washed and finely chopped)
-1/4 cup of Mozzarella (or for a more sharp flavor use Parmesan)
-8-12 oz of Fresh Fettucini (depending on how saucy you like it; You can use dried pasta)
-1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves
-Grape tomatoes to add on top.
-S&P (salt and pepper) to taste

Directions
Over med heat, heat the oil/butter in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes stirring frequently and watching carefully so as not to burn. Next add the diced tomatoes and S&P. Cook for the next 8-10 mins or until most of the moisture of the tomatoes has been cooked out. (This would be a good time to get the water for the fettucini in a pot and on the heat.) Next add the cream cheese, which may take a minute to work completely into the tomato mixture. Then whisk in the milk to ensure the sauce is smooth and creamy. Next add the broccoli into the sauce.(broccoli-which you have washed thoroughly and chopped. You don’t want much of the stalks. We just want the nice green top part.) If you are using fresh pasta, you will only have to cook it in the boiling water about 30-45 sec before adding it to the sauce. If using dried pasta make sure to take it out of the water before it is quite down because it will continue to cook in the sauce. Either way, make sure to reserve some of the pasta water if the sauce needs to be loosened up a bit. Once as the pasta is done cooking, add it to the sauce and add the cheese and basil. Using tongs toss the noodles in the sauce adding some of the reserved starchy pasta water if needed.  Serve with cheese, basil and quartered grape tomatoes on top. Enjoy! Serves 3-4 nice servings. 



Chocolate Mocha Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp of instant coffee granules 
1 TBS of milk (or water)
Preheat an oven to 350°F. 
Put the confectioners' sugar into a bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix the vanilla, coffee granules, and milk (or water) together until all the coffee has dissolved. 
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until blended. Add vanilla coffee milk mixture and beat until blended.Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of dough. Scrape the dough off the spoon into the palm of your other hand and roll into a ball. Roll the ball in the confectioners' sugar until covered then place on a prepared baking sheet.
When  baking sheet is full, put it in the oven and bake the cookies until they are crackled and puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on wire rack for a few minutes before removing from pan. Using a spatula, move the cookies onto the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the cookies. Makes about 24 cookies.
Looks like some one got to one of the cookies before i had a chance to take a picture! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Refried Beans

So first off i just want to say a quick apology for not keeping up with my blog. But i do have a reason! Our computer was in the ‘shop’ for the past week and a half, and all my recipes and picture were on that computer so i couldn’t really get much down. But I am back.


Time: <15 mins
Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 cups
 
Ingredients
-2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
-1/2 of a small onion
-2 cloves of garlic
-1/2 tsp of salt
-1/4 tsp if black pepper
-14oz can of Pinto Beans
-2 to 4 TBS of liquid (milk, water, or chicken broth)
-1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
-1/4 tsp of chili powder
-1/4 tsp paprika

-1/4 tsp of dried oregano
-2 tsp of Chipotle in Adobo puree, (optional)
-2 tbs of cilantro

-1 1/2 tsp of freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt/heat the oil/butter. Add the onions and garlic. Add in the salt and black pepper and saute for 4-6 minutes. Meanwhile drain and rinse the beans. Add in the beans, milk, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano and chipotle in adobo puree (if using)



and cook until heated through. If you have Now we have to tackle mashing these. You can put them in a food processor or use an immersion blender or if you like them a little more textured you can use a potato masher. After you have mashed them add the cilantro and lime juice. Depending on how long until they will be served you may need to add more liquid. As the beans sit they tend to dry out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mellow Fellows Marshmallows






Making these all started with a debate on wether i could make marshmallows better than the ones in Lucky Charms. Of course i said i could make them better! I mean no matter how bad you mess up in one batch of homemade marshmallows,  they would be way better than store bought ones. So i made some, and i am going to show you how!









What ya need to make ‘em
1 cup of water (1/2 cup ICE COLD)
3 envelopes of plain unflavored gelatin
1 cup of corn syrup
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 cup of powdered sugar (approx.)
13x9 baking dish
Parchment paper
Sifter (to distribute powdered sugar evenly)
Candy thermometer
Stand mixer, lubed with oil
Oil or Non stick cooking spray
Rubber Spatula
Medium
Now to make ‘em.....

Place 1/2 cup of ICED COLD water into your stand mixer. Add the 3 envelopes of gelatin. Set aside. (Don’t mess with it! It will fix itself!)

In a small or medium sauce pan add in the other 1/2 cup of water, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of corn syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Place the lid on the pot and place over medium high heat. Now depending on what heat source you are using (gas vs. electric) the time will vary from 3-8 mins. Basically, we are waiting until it comes to a boil and the condensation that accumulates on the lid will run down the side of the pan and whisk away any sugar crystals. This is important! Do not try to do this with the lid removed! Once as you have reached a boil stick in your thermometer and let the mixture boil away until you reach 240 F. (7-11 mins) Once as you reach 240, IMMEDIATELY remove from the heat. 
  Now back to the gelatin.Turn the mixer on low and get it mixing. Add just enough of the boiled syrup mixture until it becomes workable. Then slowly add in the syrup with the mixer on low. Once as all the syrup mixture is integrated turn on high and beat just until the mixture is luke warm, about 12-15 mins.

While the fluffiness is mixing, lets prepare the pan! Grease or spray thoroughly. Then completely cover with parchment paper. Grease/spray again and sift on enough powdered sugar to completely cover every nook and cranny. Now, back to the fluffiness-Right before it is done mixing add in the tablespoon of vanilla extract. Turn the mixer off and place into the prepared pan using a greased rubber spatula to prevent sticking. 





Smooth out the top so it is even and top with more powdered sugar. Let sit in a cool place for at least 3 hours and all the way up to over night. When you are ready to cut them, turn them out on to a cutting board and remove the parchment paper. Using kitchen sheers or a pizza cutter that has been dipped in powdered sugar, cut into 1 inch cubes. Place these cubes into a gallon size baggy filled with 1/2 - 3/4 cup of powdered sugar. toss them all around and pour them back into the 13x9 pan and let them finish setting up. (About an hour) After setting up, sift away the excess sugar and place in gallon size bag. They keep for about a week! Enjoy! Note: In these i added food coloring.

Note: Also i will be making s'mores kits-coming soon! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Zucchini Bread

To me, this is one of the dishes that sounds really weird and like it would be nasty but when you try it it turns out being delicious! This recipe is so simple, and yet oh so delicious. I’ll show you how i did it.



Ingredients:
~2 cups of grated Zucchini (Make sure to ring it out well. We don’t want that excess moisture messin’ with our bread)

~3 Eggs
~2 cups Flour (I like a mix of half whole wheat and half white ap flour)
~2 teaspoon Cinnamon
~1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground Nutmeg
~1 teaspoon Salt
~2 teaspoons Baking Soda
~1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
~2 cups Sugar
~1 cup Vegetable Oil (or grapeseed oil if you've got it!)
~1 Tablespoon Vanilla
~1 cup of Nuts (optional)
Beat eggs for a few minutes in your stand mixer until well mixed and light (If you have one it makes just makes it a lot easier but if not you can still do this by hand).

In a small separate bowl mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and the grates rung out zucchini. Make sure that the zucchini is well covered with all the flour and spices. Add in sugar and beat of medium for 2 more minutes.
Slowly add oil and vanilla. Next add the dry mix with the zucchini into the eggs sugar mixture.



Stir and add nuts if adding any. Pour Batter into 2 loaf pans that have been thoroughly rubbed with butter. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until when a tooth pick is inserted it comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan. Slice and Eat!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

These things drive me crazy. Don’t get me wrong- they are delicious for sure! But to get them crispy, and not steam or get mushy seems to be a loosing battle in which i cannot figure out how to win. I have read countless ways on how to get the “perfect sweet potato fries” but none of them have helped me. Some of the suggestions included soaking them in water any where from 30 sec to 3 days, putting an egg white on them before they go in the oven, coat them with cheese, just cut them and roll them in flour, use lots of oil, use no oil, use aluminum foil, don’t use anything to keep them from sticking- I mean what are we suppose to do with these things?! To which my first response is Just make mashed sweet potatoes! But that’s for another post on another day. For now the question still at hand is sweet potato fries. What i came up with was cut them thin, and use a large amount of oil. When spreading them out on the pan don’t crowd them, and try to just use one pan for one oven so that you don’t end making a steam bath for the SP. Also, make sure the oven is HOT! The only other trick which i think is the most important is use the pan that always seems to burn everything. Maybe it’s just me, but i have this pan that i absolutely hate because no matter how low the temp is, how long the cook time is, it burns everything and it drives me crazy... Unless i want to make sweet potato fries and then it is my best friend. Try to use a pan that will them. That really is the only way to ensure some crispiness and it actually tastes quite pleasing with the contrasting sweet tones of the potato. None of the measurements are really given because it just really matters on what potato you use, how thick you cut it, etc. This is one recipe where you really can eyeball it all, and it will be sure to come out fine. 

-3 medium sweet potatoes 
-Olive oil (or you could use grape seed oil. I personally do not use regular vegetable oil or canola oil because i do not like the taste)
-Salt to taste

SO, HOW DO WE MAKE ‘EM?
First i just want to throw out a disclaimer. This isn;t meant to be a “recipe.” This is meant just as a template with tips, to get you thinking next time your in the kitchen making these.

First I peeled these babies. I don’t like the skin on any potato to ever be involved in the dish, but thats just up to you.
Slice each potato into 10-18 slices (slice them length wise). How many you get form each potato just depends on how big your potato is. Next I soaked them in a big bowl of salted water for ten minutes.


 After the ten minutes, i dried them off REALLY well and tossed them in oil. I turned my oven on to 450 and stuck them in for about 15 mins, turning them 2-3 times. (But you know your oven so adjust accordingly) Once out sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

Home Made Ketchup!


Some of you may have already checked out thi
nking, “my bottled ketchup is fine enough for me”. But you are missing out on some incredible chances to customize to your personal taste and be able to take the credit for producing such a flavorful product (that really is truly easy!) But before i start talking ingredients, directions and tips, i just want to let you know this will not look or have the consistency of you average store bought bottled ketchup. It isn’t as homogenous, but the unexpected texture adds character. Try it! I think you’ll like it. 

Ingredients
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes soaked in 1 cup of water (I soaked them for 2 hours but it doesn’t need to be that long)
2 Tbs of butter (or oil)
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (i used roasted garlic)
6 oz can of tomato paste
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of raisins
2 Tbs of Honey
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence

Begin by soaking the sun dried tomatoes. This is just to help make them easier to break down when you puree the ketchup.

In a med/large pot melt the butter (or heat the oil) over med heat. Add the onion and the garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Next add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, fresh tomato, brown sugar, raisin, honey, vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and herbs de provence. Stir and cook down for at least 20 mins. You can then jar it up and enjoy!

Note: The brown sugar, raisin and honey are all sweet elements. If you do not have one of them on hand you can just increase the amount of one of the other sweetening ingredients. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake


Lemon Pound Cake
Before i loose anybody, this isn’t anything like the frozen pound cake you buy at the store. It’s closer to that lemon pound cake that they sell (or used to sell) at starbucks... only better. I found this recipe and it was too good not to share! I have barely changed the recipe, because it is such a good recipe to use.

Better Than Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake
adjusted from Dozen Flours
Cake
-5 good lemons
-3 cups flour- (i usually use ap while the original calls for cake flour. if you have both i would recommend a mix of half all purpose half cake flour)

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, that is completely softened*
-3 cups of sugar
-6 eggs, warmed for 3 minutes in hot tap water before using
-1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
Glaze
-2 lemons
-2 cups powdered-sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease your pans. (I use 2-3 bread pans, although you could use a tube or bundt pan. I just find that the bundt pan is difficult to remove from the pan and slice. In the bread pans it’s really tight in two and kinda small in three. The choice is up to you, just remember to adjust the cooking times accordingly. Around 50 mins for three loaves.
Scrub the lemons with hot soapy water to remove any dirt or wax (wax is often applide to lemons at the place where they are processed to protect against spoilage). Rinse well and dry completely. Zest the lemons, being careful to avoid the pith (the white part that is right below the yellow part of the lemon). With a very sharp paring knife, cut the tops and bottoms off of each lemon.

With one cut side down on the cutting board, trim the pith off the lemon, vertically, going all the way around each lemon, exposing the flesh of the lemon. (About.com has a great little tutorial how to do this. They illustrate the technique with an orange but it translates to any citrus fruit). Over a bowl, cut segments from membranes, letting fruit and juice fall into the bowl, and squeezing any juice in the remaining part of the lemon. Be sure to discard the seeds and the remaining membranes. With a fork, break segments into  approx. 1-inch pieces.





In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the lemon zest. Work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. 
Beat the butter for 2 minutes at medium speed in the electric mixer. Add half the sugar and mix for 2 more minutes, then add the rest of the sugar and mix again for 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the bowl and the beater blade. 
Remove the eggs from the warm water and dry them. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition (about 30 seconds). On the lowest setting, mix in the dry ingredients, then the sour cream. Lastly, gently fold in the lemon juice and segments. Transfer batter to prepared pan. 
Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean (depending on what pan you use anywhere from 45 min-1 hr and 30 mins). Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Cut around the cake in the pan, turn out the cake. Carefully turn cake right side up on rack. 
While the cake is cooling, zest and juice the 2 lemons in a bowl for the glaze. Slowly add the powdered sugar to the lemon juice and stir until smooth. It should look thick, opaque, and should be just thin enough to be pourable. If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add more lemon juice. Poke small holes all over the top of the cake using a fork or toothpick. Carefully pour the glaze over the tops and the sizes of the cake. If you have the patience let the glaze harden for about 2 hours or overnight. 
Store in a covered container, either in the fridge or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Veggie Enchiladas

Today I found myself home at 6pm hungry tired and nothing to eat but cold spaghetti that my dad had made and a pan full of jarred tomato sauce with sliced pepperoni... not exactly what i consider good eats. So, i was searching my cabinets and thinking about what i could blog about. This came popping in my head so i decided to give it a go- well my own version. I was just making it for me, so i ended up to really following the recipe but i did manage to get a few pics. I have been craving these recently so i should be making them pretty soon and will update the pics to the full thing. I hope you all enjoy these as much as i do! 

NOTE: 
-For all you carnivores in the world, you can saute some pieces of chicken (or used some left over chicken) chop it up and add it to the filling. 
-Also, the full original recipe for the sauce make ALOT of sauce. I have cut the amount down a bit but if you like your enchiladas very saucy at all you may want to double this recipe


So, how are we going to make this?

Veggie Enchiladas
adapted from alton browns enchilada lasagna (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/enchilada-lasagna-recipe/index.html)

Ingredients
For sauce:
2 dried chipotle chiles, stems and seeds removed, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds, freshly ground
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch ground black pepper
For Veggie filling:
4 teaspoons grape seed oil or vegetable oil
1 14 can of black beans (or in a pinch you could use pinto beans too)
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 cup of an assortment of sautéed vegetables (peppers, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, corn, etc.) 
Pinch kosher salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano

12 (6-inch tortillas) (or you could use some crepes if you were out of tortillas) 
3 cups shredded queso fresco or Monterey Jack
Butter

Directions
-Combine the chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chiles are soft. Set aside until ready to use.
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
-Chop your assortment of veggies. Sauté in a medium skillet over medium heat with 2 teaspoons of the oil, for 4-5 mins (depending on what veggies you use). Once tender, set aside in separate bowl.
-Heat the other 2 teaspoons of oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt, decrease the heat to medium-low and sweat for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until the onions are tender, 2 to 3 minutes more. Rinse the beans and add to the onions. Add the vegetables and 3/4 cup of the sauce to the bean & onion filling and mix. 







-Rub a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish down with butter. Place 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Fill each of the tortillas with around 1/3 cup of the filling, and 2-3 TBS of cheese. Place in the baking dish seam side down. (If any filling remains you may place it on top of the enchiladas. Once as all shells have been filled and placed in the dish, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce and top with the remaining cheese.
 -Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly.

For Meat Filled Enchiladas

1 lb of chicken breast, diced into bite size pieces
2-3 TBS of Oil (vegetable, grapeseed, olive oil)
3/4 cup of sauteed diced onion
1/2 of sauteed peppers
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper


Prepare the enchilada sauce just as mentioned aboveChop the chicken breast into bite size pieces. Heat a pan over medium heat with 1-2 TBS of oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken and sauté until juices run clear, and completely cooked through. In a separate pan saute onions and peppers with the remaining 1 TBS of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until tender. Add the veggie to the chicken and also add 1 cup of the enchilada sauce Rub a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish down with butter. Place 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Fill each of the tortillas with around 1/3 cup of the filling, and 2-3 TBS of cheese. Place in the baking dish seam side down. (If any filling remains you may place it on top of the enchiladas. Once as all shells have been filled and placed in the dish, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce and top with the remaining cheese.Cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes at 350. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly.