Monday, February 28, 2011

A Simple Staple- Tuna Salad Sandwiches

I almost feel silly making a post about something as simple as tuna salad.  But honestly sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference. This one is yummy!

6 oz. can good quality water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
salt and ground black pepper to taste

For on your sandwich
radishes, thinly sliced (about 2-3)
alfalfa sprouts
romaine lettuce
(cucumbers thinly sliced and tomatoes are also good additions)

Place first 6 ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine.  Onto some nice quality bread, lightly spread one side with a bit of mayonnaise.  Divide the tuna salad mixture amongst half of the slices of bread and layer with the radishes, alfalfa sprouts and romaine lettuce.  Top with remaining slices of bread, press together lightly, and serve.   Pairs beautifully with a bowl of Gourmet Tomato Soup.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Compost Cookies

Have you heard about these things? Oh man, if not be prepared to have your life changed forever. At least as far as snackfood and cookies go. The world famous chef, David Chang of Momofuko, Milk Bar and a number of other restaurants in NYC, has designed a cookie that changes everything we have all thought of mix-ins for cookies. Sure you have heard of adding chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, or even candy. But have you ever thought of adding potato chips, pretzels, goldfish crackers or breakfast cereal?! All at the same time. Well that is exactly what these cookies are all about. Wonderfully amazing idea, huh?!

I have been dying to try these things out ever since I first heard of them ages ago. But as you can tell by the list of ingredients- they aren't the most healthful cookie. Well I finally decided, who cares about healthy all the time!? Not me, that's for sure. I will just have some wonderful deliciousness to share with friends and neighbors (to keep me from eating the entire batch!)

Well first things first, go on a hunt through your pantry and pull out your favorite baking ingredients (chocolate chips, nuts, candy, cereal) and then choose any snack foods that intrigue you- remember anything goes!  Potato chips, pretzels, goldfish crackers, etc.  I decided to go with semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, rice crispies, cocoa crispies, plain potato chips and pretzels.  If you're going to do something then do it right.  Right?

The Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookie
recipe by Christina Tosi

1 cup butter (that's two sticks, unsalted)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup (I left this out because I didn't have any in the house. They turned out just fine. I probably wouldn't even bother trying them again with the syrup.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups your favorite baking ingredients (options: chocolate chips, Raisenettes, Rollos, Cocoa Krispies)
1 1/2 cups your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc.)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup (which I left out because I didn't have any in the house- you don't miss it one bit) on medium high for two to three minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides with a spatula. On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate.

Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size. When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Mix 45 - 60 seconds just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On the same low speed, add in the hodgepodge of your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30 - 45 seconds until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.

It tastes just as good as it looks.  But be careful, it does have raw egg in it!

Using a 6 oz. ice cream scoop portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan. (This makes HUGE cookies.)  I did one baking sheet this size, and then reduced to a two tablespoon scoop. I liked this size much better.

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour or up to 1 week. DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the oven to 400 F. Take the plastic off your cookies and bake 9 to 11 minutes. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread. At 9 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don't match up and your cookies still seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, they'll keep five days.

I thought, with all the stuff you would be adding to these cookies that they would turn out super fat, but surprisingly they did not.  The cookies flattened out quite a bit, so be sure you leave enough room in between cookies on your baking sheet.  They were exactly how I like my cookies though- crisp on the edges and nice and chewy on the inside.  The best of both worlds, in my opinion.

I will definitely be making these cookies again.  They were so delicious, the perfect combination of salty and sweet- neither one stronger then the other.  Compost Cookies are so much fun, because I am sure that they would taste slightly different depending on what you threw in there.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Whitney Ingram

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Whitney Ingram

Oh my goodness, I am beside myself with excitement to introduce you to today's guest for Fridays, Feasting with Friends!  Her name is Whitney Ingram.  She is the author of whitneyingram and the former culinary blog, Rookie Cookie.   I discovered Rookie Cookie when I first got into the blogging world.  It is a fantastic food blog, where recipe after recipe I tried were not only delicious but also well written and easy to follow.  I found myself going back time after time, only not just for her recipes.  She had a great sense of humor and an openness that I loved.  She had a way of making me feel like I knew her, even though she was a world away (OK, just Utah, but far enough for this Midwestern girl!)   That is the true definition of an excellent blogger.  Over time she has become an online blogging friend whom I probably would never would have meet if it wasn't for her written word.  What a cool community I get to be apart of!   Whitney no longer writes on Rookie Cookie, but the blog is still up and available for use.  If you have never tried any of her recipes, please do yourself a favor and go bookmark her site.  You will thank me, I promise!

I am so excited and proud of Whitney for taking the humongous step in writing a cookbook (it's in the works, so keep your eyes and ears peeled- don't worry, I will let you know when it is available.) And I actually get to have a small hand in the process by being one of her "recipe testers"!  Such fun!  I am making one of my "testing recipes" tonight as a matter of fact- very exciting.   She is hugely talented and I am thrilled you get to have a glimpse into her lovely little life.  Whitney, thank you so much for being a guest today, and I am definitely trying out your roast chicken recipe. It sounds wonderful!
So for today's Friday's, Feasting with Friends I give you Whitney Ingram.

What is your favorite thing to cook?
Dinner. I like making dinner. Anything to do with it. I feel really limited by baking. All that measuring... so restraining! With cooking, anything goes. And when a thrown-together recipe works out, that makes the food that much more delicious.

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
I get nervous about grilling steak. Nothing is sadder than a pretty piece of meat that is overcooked. So I usually chicken out all together and have my husband do the steak grilling.

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
There is a little Mexican food place in Provo, UT called El Azteca. Greasy tacos, beans and rice and spicy salsa. It is my favorite kind of food.

A place I want to try out is Zoom in Park City, UT. I was in Park City last weekend and we walked by. It looks fancy and yummy. So that is now on my list.

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
Harry Connick Jr is always a go. His music is easy going and his voice is smooth like butter.
I also like turning on disco. Everyone loves disco and everyone can’t help but groove a bit during dinner.

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
My husband’s roast chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, a perfect Caesar salad, some type of fruity lemonade and then a molten chocolate cake for dessert.

What are you currently reading?
“Seven Up” by Janet Evanovich.

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
I love two things. My santoku knife and my food processor.

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Pasta with some type of cream sauce. I always keep heavy cream in the fridge and fresh Parmesan cheese. I can throw together a cream sauce really quick and prevent household dinner meltdown.

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
We live in Lehi and like it more than we thought we would. I love how close we are to Salt Lake City. I love how close are to Utah Lake. I love our neighborhood and our neighbors. We got really lucky with where we live.

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
When it was someone’s birthday, the birthday girl almost always asked for chicken tamale pie. It was chicken, green chiles, corn and Bisquick. We just couldn’t get enough of it! I haven’t had it in years. Now that I am remembering it, we might be having that soon!

Top 3 Movies of all time?
“Star Wars”. I was raised right. I enjoyed it then, my boys enjoy it now.
“You’ve Got Mail”. It’s my laundry-folding movie.
“Austin Powers: Goldmember”. I can’t believe I am admitting that out loud right now.

What was your happiest moment in life?
Do I have to name just one? Giving birth to my children has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. It was so much emotion in one moment. Excitement, anticipation, exhaustion, happiness, pain, love, joy. And each time, I felt like such a rockstar. Three of the happiest moments of my life.

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Harmon’s. Their produce, even in the winter, is delightful. And they also have a great selection of seafood, which is sparse in Utah.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
I like donuts, brownies, chocolate truffles, crusty bread and diet soda.

Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
That I am having the gusto to write a cookbook. I have wanted to for a long time and I am just going to do it. It’s scary, but I think it’s scarier not to. Carpe diem!

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
My cookbook. I want to do a good job with it.

One word that best describes you is: Surprising. 
I just called my husband to ask him what word describes me. And his answer was “surprising”. I’ll take it.

And here is my favorite recipe. My husband's Roast Chicken and Gravy.

I am including the recipe here, but please click on the link to visit Rookie Cookie where she has wonderful pictures to go along with it.

Ethan's Roast Chicken and Gravy
For the chicken:
1 3 lb whole chicken
4 garlic cloves, sliced lengthwise into thirds
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped off
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Lawry's seasoning salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp kosher salt
A few grinds black pepper

For the gravy:
All pan drippings
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup flour

Set oven to 375 degrees.

Pat the chicken dry. Gently lift skin and loosed skin from the breast. Slip in garlic slices and rosemary leaves and distribute evenly over the breast.

With your hands, spread mayonnaise evenly over the entire chicken. With the breast side up, evenly sprinkle seasoning salt, poultry seasoning and salt. Add a few grinds of black pepper. Press toothpicks into the chicken where you loosened the skin to put the garlic and rosemary in. Place bird on the rack of a roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, removing foil after one hour.

Remove roasting pan from the oven. With two fork, gently lift the chicken and set onto a cutting board to rest while making the gravy. For the gravy, pour and scrape all drippings from the roasting pan into a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken stock, poultry seasoning and red pepper flakes. In a small bowl, whisk together butter and flour. Once the chicken stock mixture is simmering, whisk in butter flour mixture. Gravy should thicken. Once thickened, simmer gravy for an additional 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.

Once the gravy is finished and the chicken has rested, remove toothpicks, carve chicken and set on a platter. Serve chicken with gravy and rice or mashed potatoes.

Yields enough chicken and gravy for 5 servings.

Served with this: good bread for dipping, long grain white rice, steamed baby carrots with browned butter and pecans. And chocolate souffle for dessert. And then the Olympics to aid digestion.

Rookie's Notes: If your gravy isn't as thick as you want after adding the butter flour mixture, you can further thicken it with a quick fix of vegetable oil and flour. Whisk together 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 2 Tbsp flour and then whisk that into the gravy. Why use vegetable oil instead of butter? We are lazy and anxious to eat. It is more convenient to just throw together a quick thickener with that. And why not just add flour? You run the risk of it clumping up in the gravy. So you "thin it out" with vegetable oil, or butter in the case of the first thickening addition. I wouldn't recommend thickening the gravy with 1/4 cup vegetable oil and flour. Butter adds a far superior taste and texture, a silky smooth texture. BTW, here is what your butter and flour mixture should look like.

If you don't have a roasting pan, you can use a glass 9x13 inch pan. But if you want a great roasting pan, Pampered Chef. Their roasting pan is ideal. My Auntie Robin is a big wig Pampered Chef lady and I have bought lots of great products from her over the years. My roasting pan is my favorite. We've used it for roasting ribs, chicken and prime rib. I have used it to bake creme brulees or chocolate souffles in a water bath. And Robin told me that one of her customers uses it to make lasagna for her extended family of 40. So if you are looking for a great roasting pan, Pampered Chef has it.

And lastly, you will notice that Ethan didn't stuff anything in the cavity of the bird. I asked him why he never does and he said, "You don't eat the cavity". Good enough reason for me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If you are a regular here you know that my #1 assistant in the kitchen is always my son Jackson.  Any chance he can get to help stir, pour, dump and sprinkle he does it!  He is a chef in the making, and I LOVE it!!  And I definitely know that this is the reason he is so open to trying new things.  His new favorite statement (at almost every meal) is "Mommy, I like everything.  I really like to eat everything!"  How cool is that to hear from your kids mouths?!!

A food blog that I like top frequent is SoufflĂ© Bombay.  Colleen, the author of the blog is also a co-author to this brilliant cookbook called Picture Me Cooking.  Not only is it a cookbook for kids, but also a scrapbook for you to add pictures of your own children to make it extra special.  What an awesome keepsake!  I know, it is one of those "Why didn't I think of that?!"

Well be sure to head on over to the website for Picture Me Cooking to see my own Jackson as their Junior Chef in the spotlight!  I wish you could have seen Jackson when I showed him this morning.  He was so excited!  She also featured our favorite Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins.  Yum!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Teriyaki Pork Wraps with Sweet-Hot Cucumbers and Sesame Bean Sprouts

The other night, I was originally planning on making a pork stir-fry over rice to serve for dinner.  But I just wasn't feeling it.  Not in the mood for rice, but still really wanted a nice Asian dish that was a little different then what I normally make in the house.  A-Ha!  I {heart} Asian lettuce wraps.  They are so fresh, crisp and full of fantastic flavor.  Unfortunately I purchased mescaline greens this week instead of the bib or romaine hearts I generally buy.  So lettuce wraps were out of the question.  But I did have some nice soft flour tortillas.  They worked beautifully!  These wraps were so good I had them for lunch the next day and I seriously think I need to make them again this week.

The recipes for the Sweet-Hot Cucumbers and the Sesame Bean Sprouts are each ones that I had jotted down ages ago and have no idea where they came from- except that they are delicious!  They balance out the saltiness of the teriyaki perfectly.

Teriyaki Pork Wraps
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 green pepper, cut into long thin strips
1 onion, cut in half and sliced into strips
2 boneless pork chops, sliced into very thin strips
4 scallions (green onion), sliced into 1" pieces
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, reserve additional for dipping (the absolute best is Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded cabbage
Sweet-Hot Pickled Cucumbers *recipes follows
Sesame Soy Bean Sprouts *recipe follows
sesame seeds for garnish
4-6 flour tortillas

For the Pork Filling
In bowl, toss thinly cut pork with teriyaki sauce, cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes- overnight.

In hot non-stick skillet add 1 Tablespoon canola oil, sautee green peppers and onions over medium heat until tender-crisp. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with foil to keep warm. In the same pan, add the additional 1 Tablespoon oil, cook and stir marinated pork over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add sliced scallions and sautee for an additional 1 minute.  Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

Warm stack of tortillas by sandwiching them between two damp paper towels and microwave for 40 seconds.

These cucumbers are a bit sweet but also have a nice kick from the black pepper.  They are so very addicting.  LOVE them!

Sweet-Hot Pickled Cucumbers
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 English Cucumber OR 1 large cucumber, seeded and peeled

Combine the vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a small pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring until it boils and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Cut cucumber lengthwise into quarters and again into 1/8″ strips. Place in a serving bowl and pour marinade over cucumbers, stirring to blend. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Next, lets move onto these yummy bean sprouts

Sesame Bean Sprouts
1½ cups bean sprouts
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the bean sprouts along with the other ingredients. Cook over a medium-high heat until the bean sprouts are tender. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To Assemble Wraps
I like to have all the different components in their own individual bowls on the table. This way everyone can make their own to their liking. This is my personal favorite layering method for maximum crunch/flavor factor.

On a warm tortilla, layer pepper/onion mixture, shredded cabbage and carrots, pork/ scallions mixture, Sweet-Hot Cucumbers (I like lots of these babies!) , Sesame Soy Bean Sprouts, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds for garnish and drizzle with a touch of extra Teriyaki Sauce. Be careful with the Teriyaki Sauce, it can be quite salty and you don't want to over-do it.  Roll up and devour!

Layer, wrap and enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Paul Rados

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Paul Rados

For today's Friday's, Feasting with Friends I want to introduce you to a fellow foodie and blogger Paul Rados.  I first met Paul online through his blog.  I am friends with his girlfriend Lindsay and she suggested I check it out, being a food blogger myself.  I was instantly hooked. He has a fun style to his writing that makes him so great to read.  Not only does Paul blog at Paul Rados: Chef, Writer, Student..., but he is also a contributing writer for yahoo and other online media.  If you pop on over to his blog you can see all of the articles he has contributed (there are links to each one) some great recipes, and just musings about food and life in general.  Its a great addition to your Reader!  When you add in a job as a full time chef here in Cleveland, and also working toward his Dietary Manager Certification- he is one busy boy!  Thanks a lot Paul for taking the time to write for me today, and I am crazy excited about trying out your recipe- wow does it sound amazing!

What is your favorite thing to cook?
Ever since I cooked at the now defunct Bar Symon and learned how simple his famous goat cheese mac & cheese is to prepare I now enjoy various adaptations on this classic American dish. I sometimes do bacon and rosemary, sometimes chorizo with a mixture of cheeses. There is just so much you can do.

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
While I can do it, I absolutely hate cooking fish. I do enjoy eating it, especially deep-fried, on a bun, with tartar sauce!

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
Hands down my favorite restaurant in Cleveland is Greenhouse Tavern on E. 4th. Chef Sawyer and crew do an outstanding job. As for one I am dying to try… One Red Door in Hudson, although I am not sure when I am going to make it out that way.

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
I suppose the music would really depend on the menu. That’s a tough call.

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
I know it sounds odd but I would choose a bologna sandwich. It was one of the only things I ate when I was a kid. I would like to reflect on memories of my childhood if I knew my time was coming to an end.

What are you currently reading?
I am just finishing up Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower.

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
I have an unhealthy love affair with my Kitchen Aid mixer. I tend to give Lindsay dirty looks when she asks if she can use it. 9.5 times out of 10 I relent, but am watching her closely.

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
I can whip up a mean puttanesca in a pinch.

What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
I love the fact Cleveland really is a foodie town without all the hype NYC, CHI, and SF get.

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
My mother makes the best meatloaf. It is usually best the next day as a meatloaf sandwich.

Top 3 Movies of all time?
Elizabethtown, Just Like Heaven, Inception

What was your happiest moment in life?
It’s in the works!
Paul and his lovely girlfriend Lindsay

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Mostly Giant Eagle in Rocky River with some Heinen’s and West Side Market thrown in.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Cheese, hands down. Bacon is a close second.

Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
I have been publishing a lot of online articles on various websites in the last few months.

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
I would love to get my recipes organized instead of the chaotic state they are in now.

One word that best describes you is: Focused

Bacon and Granny Smith Apple Bread Pudding
1 qt milk
1 qt cream
1 pound brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 qt chopped bread

diced maple bacon (about half to 3/4 cup)
pealed granny smith apples, diced small (about 2 cups)

-mix wet, add bread, soak overnight
-add apple (about 1/4 c) and bacon (about 1 tbs) to bottom of restaurant sized soup CUP or other similar sized container
-cover with soaked bread pudding mixture and bake at 325 for around 35 min.
-finish with drizzle of heavy cream at service

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eggless Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I am really beginning to feel the restlessness of being cooped up inside due to so much snow. I have an (almost) four year old little boy that needs to run around like he needs air to breath, and in a house the size of mine it isn't very possible.  Last night I decided I needed to get out of the house, even if it meant the library.  But guess what- of course my car is stuck in the driveway due to all the ice and snow.  Looks like I am stuck in the house yet again.  Well if I can't leave I may as well bake. 

Are there any particular items you are sure to keep in your house?  Frozen ripe banana's are a must for me.  I love them for a quick pick-me-up smoothy or my other favorite- banana bread.  It is so homey, delicious and makes the house smell heavenly.  One problem- I was all out of eggs!! What's a girl to do?  Find a recipe for an eggless one of course.  

The recipe that I began with is from here, but I decided to use unsalted butter instead of shortening.  I baked my bread in 3 small loaf pans instead of one large one because I wanted to be able to put some away in the freezer to pull out later for a nice treat.  This bread is so lovely!  Almost too delicious- when I tasted my first slice I seriously could have gone back and eaten the entire thing in one go!  I had to hurry up and wrap up the rest before I was too tempted to give in.  This recipe is an absolute keeper.  I don't know that I will ever have to look for a better one.  

Eggless Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 banana's)
1 cup chocolate chips

Note: This recipe does NOT contain eggs or milk.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter for about 5 minutes (mixture does not get smooth). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with bananas, beating after each addition (the batter will be thick). Spoon into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan (I used three 5.75 x 3 in loaf pans). Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bread tests done with a toothpick. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Shallot-Browned Butter

Normally when I make Brussels Sprouts I go for my recipe of Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots.  I mean, who doesn't love bacon?!  But this time I was all out of bacon (tragedy, I know!) So I thought I would change up the recipe a bit and create a Browned Butter Sauce for them to add a nice nuttiness to the brussels sprouts.  They turned out delicious, and all agreed that the sauce worked perfectly with the them, balancing the flavors just right.  Browned Butter is so easy to make, but you do have to pay attention the entire time because it can quickly go from being Brown Butter to Burned Butter.  

Brussels Sprouts with Shallot-Browned Butter
1 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots

Cut off the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowing outer leaves. If large, cut each Brussels sprout in half from top to bottom. (mine were kinda small so I left them whole). Place the Brussels sprouts, water and salt into a 3 to 4-quart sauce pan and cover. Place over high heat and cook for 5 minutes or until tender.

For the Browned Butter: Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; whisking frequently.  Cook about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and releasing a wonderful nutty flavor. The butter will foam up a bit and then subside.  Look at the bottom of the pan, little brown specks should be beginning to form.  Be so careful not to burn! Add shallots; cook 1 minute. Add Brussels Sprouts; cook 1 minute, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sweets for a Saturday!

Hi everyone!  I hope you are all having a great weekend, gearing up for all the fabulous Super Bowl parties happening around town!  I think we are going to lay kinda low and just enjoy the day as a family-with yummy food to enjoy of course (because who am I kidding.  The only reason I watch the Super Bowl is for the food and the commercials!)

This weekend I was invited to join in on this great linky party called Sweets for a Saturday hosted by the lovely Lisa from Sweet as Sugar Cookies.  This is where bloggers from all over submit their sweet treat recipes baked throughout the given week.   I submitted my Honey-Blueberry Muffins (I am number 121!) so please come on by, support some other fabulous food bloggers and by all means- Bake Something Delicious!!  Goodness knows you have a lot of incredible recipes to choose from!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Honey-Blueberry Muffins

Honey- Blueberry Muffins
makes 12-14 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup blueberries

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease or line with paper muffin cups 1 muffin pan.

In a large bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, honey, and butter until smooth.  Combine the two mixtures, blending until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  Stir in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each one about 3/4 full.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5-7 minutes.  Serve warm, or invert onto the rack and cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I did this recipe slightly different then how it called for.  Today I was a little scattered.  Jackson wanted to be my helper, which I love.  But I tend to need to read directions more then once when I bake with him because it is easy to get distracted.  Scott was also working from home hanging out in the kitchen and I wasn't in my usual groove, if you know what I mean.  I started mixing everything before I realized I didn't have two full cups of all-purpose flour.  I didn't really want whole wheat today, so I thought I would try out my cake flour for the other cup. I also added one full cup of blueberries instead of the 1/2 a cup and sprinkled the top with raw sugar for a little crunch.  I popped them in the oven and while I was waiting for them to bake I decided to have a cup of tea. Well what on earth did I find in my microwave when I opened it to heat my water- the melted butter!!  Oh no!   I didn't have any fat or applesauce to balance things out so I had no idea what on earth was going to happen to these things!  They could turn out hard as a rock or just awful tasting.  Or just maybe they would be okay.... so of course I peeked at them, and they were rising beautifully- nice high domes. And when I gently poked them, they gave just like a muffin should.  Well since I had the melted butter I didn't want it all to go to waste, so I brushed the tops of each muffin and put them back in the oven to finish baking.  Hmmm... we shall see at taste test time.

Well guess what?!  They are delicious!  Maybe it was the cake flour?  I have no idea.  But they were super moist and spongy.  The extra blueberries made them awesome- a blueberry in almost each bite.  And the raw sugar gave a perfect little crunch.  So without knowing it, I just saved us a whole mess of fat and calories.  Don't you love when mistakes turn out to not be mistakes after all?  So here is the recipe I accidently came up with.  I will totally make them like this again in the future.  I may even try using all cake flour next time....

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 cup blueberries
raw sugar, sprinkle on before going in the oven
a bit of melted butter for brushing on the tops, halfway through baking time

proceed with the original directions.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Crispy Baked Potatoes

I love baked potatoes.  Especially those that are rolled in olive oil and kosher salt before baking. Oh my goodness... so good.  The only problem is that they take an awfully long time to bake.  Well here is a recipe that gives you that same wonderful flavor and creaminess of a baked potato in a shorter amount of time and also has an awesome crispiness to the potatoes that regular bakers don't have.

Crispy Baked Potatoes
2 baking potatoes, like Idaho or russet
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Scrub the potatoes clean and pat dry.  Cut in half lengthwise and rub with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for about 15 minutes.  With tongs flip the potatoes and sprinkle with a little bit more salt and pepper.  Return to the oven for about 10-15 minutes more.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh parsley or chives.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Basic Recipe's Everyone Should Know How to Do- Sauteed Boneless Chicken Breasts

Exciting, adventurous, new dishes are always a fun to make. It keeps life exciting in the kitchen and helps keep the weekday blahs at a minimum. But these dishes really are only great once you can master the basics. It's like the old saying goes- you need to learn to walk before you can run. I am going to post a series of some nice, basic recipes- that once you have these perfected you can basically make anything at all.

Today I am going to share a absolute necessity! Sauteed Chicken. As simple as chicken may seem, it is also the one meat that so many people are completely afraid to cook. People have this fear of under cooking it, and therefore end up cooking it to death- leaving it so dry and tough, you just may as well chew on leather. Yuck. Just like most meats, timing is everything. Watch the clock and watch the temperature of your pan. You don't want to burn the outside before the inside is cooked and you also don't want to steam your chicken at too low of a heat because this takes way too long and will dry out the meat.  If the pan is hot enough, a boneless skinless chicken breast should cook in exactly 4 minutes* a side.  *More of less depending on thickness.  It is a great idea to pound your chicken breast.  This will tenderize the meat and also ensure even cooking time.  If one side is super thick and the other thin, one half will start to dry out before the plump side cooks through.  To pound you chicken, use a meat tenderizer.  If you don't have one, a rolling pin or a heavy bottom pan would work.  place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper (to avoid splattering) and just hammer on the meat to flatten it.  Try and be careful not to tear the meat, you just want to flatten it out.  Tenderizing meats not only insures even cooking time but also reduces the amount of time you need to marinate your meats.

Ok so back to the chicken... after you have tenderized your chicken, you want to rinse and pat dry.  Trim it of any fat around the edges and sprinkle both side with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  On a plate, spread out your flour and coat the chicken on both sides, pressing to make the tenderloins (the thin strips of meat on the underside of the chicken breast) adhere. Gently shake off the excess flour; too much will just cause them to burn.

Preheat a heavy 10-12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add to the pan 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil.  Swirl the butter and oil around until it smells awesome and is a nutty-brown color.  Place the chicken in the pan, tenderloin side down and saute for exactly 4 minutes- set a timer!  Do not let anything burn.  If it appears like it is too hot or beginning to burn, turn down the heat a bit.  Using tongs, turn your chicken and cook until the chicken feels firm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes more- don't be afraid to touch your meat!  Your fingers are a great judge of doneness.  A milky juice will also appear around the tenderloins.  If you are afraid, you can carefully make a small slice into the thickest part of the breast to see if the juices run clear.  but you really don't want to make a habit of this because when you cut into the meat you release juices that haven't had a chance to absorb back into the meat yet.  This is what keeps your chicken tender and moist.

And look at that- you are done!  A wonderfully juicy piece of chicken that is absolutely delicious on its own, but kicked up a notch with a nice sauce made in the pan drippings.

Serve with a side of potatoes and a fresh vegetable and you've got dinner!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Stay tuned, my recipes for Crunchy Baked Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Shallot-Browned Butter are on their way!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros stands for Ranch Style Eggs.  This is one of my most favorite meals of all time.  It is spicy, gooey and 100% satisfying.  It makes for a fun, non-traditional breakfast.  But I cook this for dinner all the time.  It is very fast meal, so you can easily make this at the end of a long day and have dinner on your plate in well under 20 minutes.

There are two ways you can prepare this dish.  You can cook a homemade salsa in your skillet, using fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cilantro- my favorite method.  But if you don't happen to have any of these ingredients onhand, but do have a jar of prepared salsa- use that!  I use this short-cut all the time.  especially in the months when the tomatoes in the grocery store look less then appetizing.  You really want juicy tomatoes.  So if they are too firm in the market or look too pink (you know what I mean), buy a good quality jar of salsa.

The whole basic concept of this recipe is you cook your salsa in a skillet (or heat up the jarred salsa) until simmering.  Then you very carefully slide an egg into holes you create in the salsa and poach them in the sauce until the tops become translucent, but still the yokes are runny.  Serve ontop of a warmed tortilla, top with a touch of cheese- and voila!  So easy, but really a crowd pleaser.

Huevos Rancheros 
serves two

4 eggs
2 tortillas (I prefer flour, but you could very well use corn)
freshly grated cheese (I used a cheddar and a montery jack)
1 Tbsp olive oil

For Ranchero Sauce (if using jarred salsa, skip these ingredients.)
3 large tomatoes, chopped. Do not drain. You want the juice and seeds. or or 1 - 15oz. Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, undrained
1 yellow onion, chopped into chunks
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed (you can keep the seeds and ribs if you want more of a kick. This is where the majority of the heat is located), diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cilanto, coarsely chopped (parsely may be substitued if you don't care for cilantro)
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Move oven rack into the middle position and preheat oven to 200°F. Place 2 ovenproof plates on rack to warm.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. One at a time, heat tortillas for about 30 seconds a side, until just starting to bubble. Flip and repeat. Once lightly warmed on both sides transfer to a plate in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortilla. Loosely cover both plates so the tortillas don't dry out.

For the Ranchero Sauce: (if using jarred salsa skip down to the next step)
Over medium heat, add the olive oil to the same skillet you browned your tortillas in.  Add the onions, garlic and jalapenos and sautĂ© until the onions become translucent.  Being careful not to burn your garlic. Add the tomatoes to the pan and simmer until the sauce reduces a bit and begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.   If your tomatoes don't seem juicy enough, add a little water at a time until you get a nice, salsa type consistency.  Once thickened add the cilantro, salt and pepper and combine.

If using jarred salsa, pour the salsa into your skillet and simmer over medium heat until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken.

Now is the fun part!  We are going to "poach" the eggs inside the salsa.  One at a time, make a hole inside the salsa about the size of a half dollar and very carefully break your egg into the hole. Repeat with remaining eggs.

Lightly pepper your eggs and let simmer in the sauce until the white become opaque and the yokes start to glaze over.  If your yokes are taking a little too long to set up, cover briefly, checking on them often.  You totally want a runny yoke for this recipe.  It makes the dish!

Once eggs are set up, remove your plates from the oven and discard foil.  Top each tortilla with a few spoonfulls of your cooked salsa.  Carefully using a large spoon, place two eggs per plate on top of the salsa tortillas.  Spoon a bit more salsa onto the eggs and sprinkle with grated cheese. Serve with Classic Black Beans or Black Beans and Corn on Rice (shown).  Enjoy!


Related Posts with Thumbnails