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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Operation Baking Gals

When I saw Operation Baking GALS posted on Beantown Baker's blog I knew I wanted to participate.  The holidays are coming up and I wanted to send some delicious treats to a soldier and his friends.  Also, it was a great way to try a few cookie recipes that had caught my eye without having to eat all the cookies myself!  Zach helped me with quite a bit of the baking.  We made peanut butter cookies, double chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookie bars, beef jerky, and ranch crackers.  I also picked up some Halloween candy to send off -- Skittles, Starburst and mini Oreoes.    The recipes for the peanut butter cookies and double chocolate cookies will be up soon, they were both absolutely fantastic.  We hope Ryan and his friends enjoyed the treats!

French Toast Bread Pudding: Barefoot Bloggers

This is the first recipe Barefoot Bloggers has done for Ina's newest cookbook, How Easy is That?  I enjoyed this recipe, though I thought it was a bit too lengthy for an average morning meal.  Definitely not on a weekday, and probably for a rare weekend.  I like making bigger breakfasts on the weekends, but not ones I necessarily need to wait an hour and a half for.  I cut the recipe in half and I did like that I got a chance to try my cinnamon apple syrup from Stonewall Kitchen.  I despise maple syrup and so typically leave it out of recipes or avoid recipes where maple is an integral flavor.  Now I have a substitute for maple syrup and it was delicious!

French Toast Bread Pudding
from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? by Ina Garten
serves 4
1/2 large challah loaf, cut into 3/4 inch slices4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups half and half (I used fat free)1 1/2 Tablespoons honey1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher saltconfectioners' sugar and apple cinnamon syrup, for serving

  •   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  
  •   Arrange the sliced bread in a casserole dish.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, honey, orange zest, vanilla and salt.  Carefully pour the mix over the bread in the casserole dish.  Press down and allow to soak for at least 10 minutes. 

  • Place thecasserole dish in a roasting pan and cover with foil.  Make slashes in the foil with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.  Pour water in the roasting pan, coming about an inch up the side of the casserole.  

  • Bake 30 minutes, then remove the foil.  Bake an additional 35-40 minutes, until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. 
  • Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with apple cinnamon syrup.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 when I'm 30

I've seen this idea on a few blogs now, elly says opa!, APPLE A DAY and Beantown Baker are three I've enjoyed following.  I've decided to take on the idea as my 30th birthday arrives.  

I had a lot of fun making the list, and I hope to have even more fun making all the new dishes.  I used the three lists linked above as a starting point, but some are things I've wanted to try for awhile, some are more basic than others, and some are challenges I can't wait to take on.  I especially like the idea of trying to make more things from scratch.  Yes, marshmallows and mayonnaise are cheap and easy to buy, but I want to try making them myself.

There are a few dishes here I also want to try for myself -- tiramisu, tamales, swedish meatballs for example, that I usually order in restaurants but want to attempt making at home.  There are also a good number of breads on the list, again getting back to my idea of making things from scratch.  Zach and I recently listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and it was a good reminder that many things are simple to make at home instead of buying, and that with a little time we can probably have a much better product.  Cheese is on my list mainly because of that book, and it's also why I added pasta and bacon, thinking of how I can make more items from scratch in my own kitchen.  

Some things are on the list because I have always loved my mom's version and haven't attempted to make them myself thinking I'll never get it quite as good as hers.  Angel food cake and beef stroganoff being the first two that jump to mind.  Some others are on the list because they are foods Zach enjoys and I want to try making them for him, pho, mole and paella are in that category. 

So, here is my list of 30 things to make while I am 30, to be started on November 17th.  I don't expect much progress to be made in the first few months with the holidays approaching, we tend to do a lot of traveling during that time. Most will probably be accomplished over my school breaks, expect a lot of posts next summer!

1.  Marshmallows
2.  Tiramisu
3.  Pho
4.  Tamales
5.  Mole
6.  French Onion Soup
7.  Cheese
8.  Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
9.  Pasta
10.  Some sort of Asian dumpling, egg roll, won-ton, spring roll, etc.
11.  English Muffins
12.  Angel Food Cake
13.  Swedish Meatballs
14.  Empanadas
15.  An alcohol item, either a kahula or bailey's style liqueur, or to take over Zach's homebrewing equipment to make my own beer or hard cider.
16.  Salt Crusted something, I've seen great recipes for beef and fish.
17.  Mayonnaise
18.  Gnocchi
19.  Tres Leches Cake
20.  Focaccia 
21.  Homemade Vanilla
22.  Bacon
23.  Sourdough Bread
24.  Beef Stroganoff
25.  Pita Bread or Naan
26.  A Scallop dish, I've recently discovered a love of scallops!
27.  Find a great cut-out cookie and decorate them
28.  Paella
29.  German Apple Pancake
30.  Tortillas

Monday, November 15, 2010

Zucchini Pistou

I saw this recipe during my first reading of July's Cooking Light.  My first reading of a food magazine is usually the day it arrives, flipping through during dinner that night, or as we are watching tv.  Which is then soon followed by my second reading of the same magazine of the previous month -- which involves tearing out pages and cutting out recipes.  I like to keep the latest month's magazines on our coffee table, so as soon as a new one arrives, the old one gets cut up for recipes to file away.   Sometimes a recipe looks so good that it will jump to the 'must be made' pile even while it's still in the magazine and not yet cut-out.  That happened with this recipe.  It looked delicious and we had an abundance of zucchini and basil from our CSA that week.  It was a great way to use up some zucchini and broke me free of my normal habit of sauteeing them in a bit of butter, garlic and oregano.  It definitely made it's way into the 'keeper' binder of recipes.  I did make a few changes.  I made the substitution I use in all pestos -- almonds instead of pine nuts.  I used a mix of zucchini and yellow summer squash.  And, I used fat free half and half instead of heavy cream since that is what we already had on hand. 

Zucchini Pistou
adapted from Cooking Light, July 2010

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups pasta and 1 tablespoon cheese)

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices small zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
2 tablespoons almonds
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion 
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove from pan; cool. 
  • Place 1/4 cup cooked zucchini, basil, 1/4 cup cheese, almonds, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped. (Keep mixture in processor.)
  • Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until golden. Return remaining cooked zucchini to pan. Remove from heat.
  • Combine 6 quarts water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to vegetables.
  • With processor on, add reserved liquid to basil mixture; process until smooth. Add basil mixture to pasta. Add cream, remaining salt, and pepper; stir. Top with remaining cheese.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oven Fried Chicken: Barefoot Bloggers

 Yum, yum, yum!  I loved this dish.  It was deliciously crispy on the outside and the meat was moist and flavorful.  The skin was perfect.  I love crispy chicken or turkey skin (who doesn't?  well, besides vegetarians...).  The crust was well flavored; I especially enjoyed the noticeably peppery aspect.  It was good that day and also good warmed up.  We also shredded some of the meat to be used in other dishes.  We would definitely make this again. 

chosen by Vicki of My Fare Lady