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Monday, November 14, 2011

Arepas with Peppers and Eggs: Secret Recipe Club

This is my fifth post for Secret Recipe Club and a very delicious one!!  If you haven't heard about Secret Recipe Club before, then you should definitely check out the website.  Every month a bunch of bloggers get assigned another participating blog to make a recipe from.  This month I had Debbi's blog -- Debbi Does Dinner ... Healthy and Low Calorie.  I had a great time looking through her blog and picking out a recipe to try.  It was hard to narrow it down -- I strongly considered the onion rings, bacon chocolate chip cookies and black bean and corn quinoa.  I finally settled on the arepas with peppers and eggs.  

If you know me, you know how crazy this sounds -- but I actually left bacon out of a recipe.  I love bacon, it makes everything better.  I fully intended to include bacon in the recipe but we forgot to pull it out of the freezer that morning, so it was still frozen solid at dinner time.  Oh well, this recipe was just as great without it.  We topped with pickled red onions we had leftover from a previous recipe, the roasted poblanos and it was a great way to have breakfast for dinner - yum! 

Arepas with Peppers and Eggs 

2 large poblano chile peppers
1 cup finely ground cornmeal
1 can corn, 15 ounces, drained
1/2 cup shredded colby cheese
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
vegetable oil
8 eggs, beaten
pickled red onions

  • Heat broiler to high, put the poblanos under the broiler.  Place under broiler, turning until blackened on all sides.  Place in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let chiles steam in the bowl for 10 minutes.  Peel, seed and chop.
  • While chiles are steaming, place cornmeal and corn in a bowl and season with salt.  Add cheese and toss until corn and cheese are coated with cornmeal and distributed evenly.  Warm milk in the microwave, but do not boil.  I usually do 2-3 minutes at half power.  Add the butter to the warm milk to melt it.  Stir the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture.  Let soak for 10 minutes.  
  • Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add spoonfuls of the cornmeal batter to the hot oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes on the first side and 1-2 minutes on the second side.  Transfer the first batch to a plate when cooked then continue cooking the rest of the batter until all arepas are made.  
  • While finishing the last batch of arepas, beat the eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper.  In a medium skillet, cook eggs, scrambled to desired doneness.  
  • To serve, put several arepas on a plate, top with eggs, roasted poblanos and pickled onions, if desired.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts: Secret Recipe Club

This is my fourth post for Secret Recipe Club and I'm so excited to share it with you all!  Every month a part of being in Secret Recipe Club is to go around and read the other posts written and revealed on the same day in your group.  Every time I've been to this blogger's site I've thought, "Man, it would be neat to get her blog sometime!"  Then this month, I did!  For October I was assigned the blog Fake Ginger.  I've enjoyed this blog for quite some time now, and I actually already had a few connections to it already -- she's a fake ginger, I'm a real ginger; and about this time last year I was the winner of one of her awesome giveaways!  So it was fun to get assigned her blog after reading it for awhile and even participating on it as well.

I was especially excited to see that she had some posts about baked doughnuts.  I had been seeing baked doughnuts popping up all over the blog world in the last few months and I've been wanting to make some for myself.  The only problem was that I needed a doughnut pan.  Since we live near a Williams-Sonoma outlet, I tend to wait for things like this to show up there so I can get them at a discounted price.  I've been stalking the shelves and a doughnut pan hadn't yet arrived.  But, I was at another fantastic kitchen supply store -- Sur La Table and found a doughnut pan on sale for 3.99.  It was the long, cruller shape and not the typical round but I figured for 3.99 it's worth a try!

So I had the doughnut pan, all I needed was the recipe.  A few days later I got my Secret Recipe Club assignment and was thrilled to find baked doughnuts on Amanda's page.  I let Zach chose the flavor -- he picked vanilla with vanilla glaze, but if it were up to me I would have made her Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze recipe.  We had these for a lazy Sunday breakfast and they were amazing.  Nice and tender, great vanilla flavor and super delicious.  I love having them warm form the oven when the glaze soaks in a bit and makes them extra moist and sweet.  The only change I really made was to double the cinnamon since I love cinnamon.  Other than that it was great as is!

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts
makes 3 cruller-shaped doughnuts (or 6 round)


For doughnuts:
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter, melted

For glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 – 2 teaspoons half and half
sprinkles (Sprinkles!  Who doesn't love a recipe that calls for sprinkles?!?)

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Spray your doughnut pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Stir until combined.
  • In a small bowl whisk buttermilk, egg, vanilla and butter until combined.  Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined.  
  • Portion batter into doughnut pan (3 crullers or 6 round doughnuts).  Bake 8-10 minutes for round doughnuts or 20-25 minutes for the larger/thicker cruller shape.  They should spring back when touched.  Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing.
  • While doughnuts cool, make the glaze.  Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 teaspoon half and half, stirring and adding half and half as needed to achieve the right consistency.  
  • Remove doughnuts from pan, top with glaze and sprinkles and serve.

Check out the other recipes and blogs that are a part of this week's Secret Recipe Club reveal day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Southwestern Cornbread and Beef Skillet

I've always enjoyed cooking.  There is a comfort to taking a recipe, shopping for ingredients and then following the steps to create a dish.  I've also always been pretty comfortable putting my own twist on a recipe.  I like to change up the spices or switch out a few ingredients according to what I have on hand, or what better suits my tastes.  I'm not afraid to change things up and as I've gained more experience in the kitchen I've gotten more and more comfortable making changes, additions and substitutions to recipes and this dish is a great example of that. 

I was searching for a one-dish meal to make for Good Life Eats and My Baking Addiction's Holiday Recipe Exchange.  This week the contest is sponsored by Le Creuset.  I couldn't think of any one-dish meals off the top of my head besides soup so I did a quick search on the website for one of my favorite food magazines -- Everyday Food.  I found a slideshow of one pot meals and decided on this one.  After reading some reviews decided to make some changes. 

First of all I wanted to use things I had on hand, so I switched out the mushrooms for sweet corn.  The combo of corn, red peppers and onion then immediately brought to mind southwest flavors.  Some of the comments on the recipe suggested that the sauce was rather bland as it was written, so I thought a flavor profile with cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne would be a good move.  The other major change I made was to use buttermilk instead of sour cream and an egg to make the cornbread dough.  As I went to the fridge to get the egg I realized we were out of them.  Oops.  But, we happened to have buttermilk so I just substituted that instead.  The flavors were great and really worked well with the peppers and corn.  It was a quick and easy weeknight meal -- with only one pot to clean!!

Come join the fun with the My Baking Addiction and Good Life Eats holiday recipe exchange sponsored by Le Creuset!

Southwestern Cornbread and Beef Skillet
serves 4-6

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup corn (frozen or 15 oz can, drained)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano
1 pound ground sirloin
1/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup beef broth
3/4 cup buttermilk

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl mix cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, baking soda, smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Stir to combine. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour olive oil in the pan then add peppers and onion.  Saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Then add corn and cook 2-3 minutes longer.  Add cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, and oregano. 
  • Raise heat to high and add in ground beef and tomato paste.  Cook until beef is fully browned, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the pan and stir until flour is dissolved.  Add in the broth  and stir until a sauce forms.  Turn off heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the buttermilk into the cornmeal/flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Drop tablespoons of batter on top of the beef mixture in the skillet.  There will be enough batter for  6 scoops, placing them about one inch apart.  Bake until biscuits are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grilled Sausage Panzanella

This is a great recipe for the end of summer.  It's a fantastic way to get out and use your grill a few more times before the cold weather hits.  We had this one week in early summer and then have quickly repeated it almost every week since.  It's a great, fast weeknight meal and tastes fabulous.  Grilling the bread as well as the sausage really emphasizes smoky, charred flavors in the dish.  And it's so versatile.  We always have a few packages of sausage in the freezer, usually a flavored chicken sausage.  Trader Joe's has a great selection of varieties and our favorite grocery store in the world, Wegmans, has also recently launched a line in their own brand name as well.  We've done this with pesto sausage, sun-dried tomato sausages, Italian (both sweet and hot), smoked chardonnay and apple, andouille, spinach and feta, the list can go on and on.  I bet kielbasa would be particularly good as well -- which gives me another excuse to put this dish on the menu for the upcoming week (like I needed one!).

Grilled Sausage Panzanella
adapted (and infinitely customizable) from EveryDay with Rachael Ray, June/July 2010
Serves 4

2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped (I've also used cherry/grape tomatoes that are halved and chopped heirloom tomatoes.)
1/4 large onion (or 1/2 medium), thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
Salt and pepper 
Four thick slices bread (Use your preferred variety, I find Italian or sourdough work well.)
4 sausage links (about 1 pound), any variety 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 

  • In a large bowl mix together the tomatoes, onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Preheat your grill to medium.
  • Once grill is hot and ready, grill bread slices, about 2 minutes in each side.  You want them to get toasty brown and have some charring around the edges.  
  • After removing the bread, grill the sausages.  If your sausages are precooked then you are just heating them up, so about 5-7 minutes total.  If you are using raw sausages you will need to grill until cooked completely, so about 10-12 minutes total.  Turn sausages often for even cooking/heating and nice grill marks.  
  • Add olive oil and red wine vinegar to the tomato mixture.  Cut bread into 1/2 -3/4 inch cubes.  Cut the sausages into similar sized slices.  Add the bread, sausage, basil and half the parmesan to the tomato mixture.  Toss until combined.  Divide into bowls and serve with the additional parmesan for sprinkling on top. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Triple Chocolate Cookies

I found this cookie recipe when flipping through a stack of my Cook's Illustrated magazines.  I knew I had to make them as soon as I saw them.  Like all Cook's Illustrated recipes, it was perfect.  Their recipes often involve steps that seem unnecessary at the time, but when you read the narrative and it is explained to you why included these steps you understand and take the extra time to make it right.  I have never had a recipe of theirs not turn out.  I may not like the particular combination of flavors, and might change up seasonings here or there, but the recipes pretty much always turn out flawless.  I do wish the same could be said for my pictures, but these were too good not to share because of a not-so-great picture.  The key is the three types of chocolate -- the melted chocolate in the dough, the cocoa powder and then the chips that are added in as well.  These cookies are ginormous.  You use an ice cream scoop to portion them out, and they spread quite a bit.  They really remind me of they kind you would buy at a bakery or in a store, giant and crispy on the edges but chewy in the middle. 

I am submitting this recipe to the Holiday Recipe Exchange hosted by Good Life Eats and My Baking Addiction to have a chance to win a gift basket from Scharffen Berger Chocolate, which actually is the brand I used when making these cookies.  Zach had gone to visit his brother in Hershey, Pennslyvania and brought me back several bars of their high quality chocolate for baking.  I'd love to win more for use in future recipes!  Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Exchange sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

Triple Chocolate Cookies
Cook's Illustrated, September/October 1999

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • Sift first four ingredients together into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Set up either a double boiler, or a medium pot filled with 3-4 inches of water with a metal bowl that will fit in the pot without touching the water.  Melt the chopped chocolate in the bowl, stirring until smooth.   Remove from heat and turn off burner.  
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg and vanilla together.  Sprinkle the coffee powder on top.  Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 10 seconds.  Add in sugars and beat about one minute, mixture will still look granular.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add in egg/vanilla/coffee powder mixture.  Beat until incorporated, about another minute.  Add melted chocolate and additional chips in steady stream and beat another minute.  
  • Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add flour mixture.  Beat until just combined, do not overmix.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until fudge-like.  
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment (the parchment plays a key role later -- don't use a silpat!).  Scoop cookies onto cookie sheet using 1 3/4 inch ice cream scoop.  Leave 2, even 3, inches between each ball of dough. 
  • Bake for 10 minutes, reversing the cookie sheets halfway through baking.  The centers of the cookies will still be very soft-looking.  Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes, then slide the parchment off the cookie sheet and onto the cooling rack.  Cover pans with new parchment and bake next set of cookies.  Once cookies are completely cooled, remove from parchment. 

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Pork Fried Rice

    I found this recipe a few months back in Cooking Light.  It was always in the back of my mind when menu planning, but never quite made it on the list.  I'm not quite sure what eventually moved it to the top of the list, but I wish I hadn't waited so long!  This was a great recipe, and is easy for a weeknight with a bit of planning ahead.  I made the rice the night before and kept it in the fridge until it was time to prep dinner.  If you can get that step done ahead of time, then this makes a quick meal.  I also love that it uses only half a pound of pork for 4 servings.  It's just enough to have small pieces sprinkled throughout but not enough to take over the dish.  It also helps stretch your budget since meat/protein is often the most costly part of the meal.  

    This recipe does have a rather long list of ingredients, but most are found in many asian dishes.  Once you have mirin, seasme oil, and soy sauce they will last you ahwile and you will find many other dishes to use them in.  The other stuff is fairly inexpensive -- green onions, ginger, carrots, bean sprouts.  I made just one modification -- leaving out the celery since I don't like it.  But other than that its pretty straight-forward and pretty delicious!  Make sure to have everything prepped before you start cooking, once you begin cooking it moves pretty fast from start to finish.

    Pork Fried Rice
    barely adapted from Cooking Light, January 2011
    serves 4

    2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    kosher salt
    1/2 pound boneless pork loin chop, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1/2 cup chopped carrot
    1/2 cup chopped green onion bottoms
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
    3 cups cooked, chilled long-grain brown rice
    1 large egg
    3 tablespoons mirin
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups fresh bean sprouts
    1/4 cup canned diced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
    1 cup chopped green onion tops

    • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet, swirling to coat.  Sprinkle the pork with a healthy pinch of kosher salt.  Add seasoned pork to pan and cook, stirring frequently until browned all over, about 4 minutes.  Remove pork from pan into a medium bowl.
    • Add carrot to pan, cook for 2 minutes.  Stir frequently and when lightly browned add them to the bowl with the pork.  
    • Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan and saute onion bottons, garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds.  Add rice and stir, coating rice with oil.  Flatten into an even layer and let cook for 2-3 minutes, until starting to brown on the edges.  
    • Using a spoon, move the rice to the edges of the pan, leaving an empty spot in the center.  Pour the scrambled egg into the cleared spot and cook, stirring constantly.  
    • After cooking the egg to a soft scramble (about 30 seconds), return the pork and carrot mixture to the pan, mixing everything together.  Add in mirin and cook a minute or so, until it is absorbed.
    • Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in water chestnuts and bean sprouts.  Portion into bowls and top with green onion tops. 

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Roasted Red Onion and Squash Pasta

    This recipe is perfect for the approaching fall season.  Last week we got the first hard squashes in our CSA box and I know there will be more to come.  I didn't really have butternut squash until last year when we started getting them from our farm.  I was missing out.  In this recipe it's the star and it's delicious.  It turns into a creamy, delicious consistency and makes for a healthy meal.  I used whole wheat pasta, which played well with the nutty flavor of the squash.  This also is a good recipe for freezing.  It made a ton of pasta (I doubled the recipe) and we divided it up into individual portions and froze for quick lunches later on.  It reheated really well and tasted just as delicious!  The only change I made was to use parmesan cheese instead of fontina since we always have parmesan on hand.  We had everything for this meal on hand actually, which makes it a handy recipe to have in your back pocket for busy weeks. 

    Roasted Red Onion and Squash Pasta
    serves 4

    2 medium red onions, cut into 6 wedges each, layers separated
    1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
    1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    Coarse salt and ground pepper
    1/2 pound short ridged pasta, I used penne
    1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 
    • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a baking sheet toss onions, squash, sage and oil until all the vegetables are well coated.  Season with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer.  Roast until tender and turning brown, about 20 minutes.  Stir vegetables halfway though.
    • While veggies roast, put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, salt water and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup of pasta water.  When pasta is cooked, drain and place in a large bowl.  When veggies are done, add them to the pasta and stir to combine.  Add the 1/2 cup of pasta water as needed to create a sauce that coats pasta.  Top with cheese and enjoy! 

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Spice Rubbed Pork with Quinoa

    This is another Food Network Magazine recipe.  I love their weeknight meals section, and I love it even more since they started including the nutrition information along with the recipes.  That makes it really easy to plan the rest of your day, or to find ways to cut down on the calories/fat, as I did with Wednesday's Barcelona Burgers recipe.  This recipe was pretty good as is -- around 500 calories, which is right on target for a typical weeknight meal.  Plus, it's built on lean protein and quinoa is generally considered a whole grain (yes I know it's technically a seed, but for nutrition purposes it is classified as a whole grain).  Add an extra veggie as a side and you're all set! 

    I loved the spice mix on the pork chop, because as we determined previously, I love smoked paprika.  I really liked the quinoa too; we hadn't had it before and this was a great preparation.  We even repeated the side dish with other meals since it's super easy and fairly quick as well.  The key to quinoa is to rinse it really really well.  It can have an outer coating that will turn bitter when cooked.  I adapted it only slightly -- changing up the called for pork tenderloins with pork chops and the frozen corn with canned.  The only other change I made is to cook my quinoa as directed on the package, not as listed in the recipe.  I have made these changes in this rendition of the recipe.  

    Spice Rubbed Pork with Quinoa
    adapted from Food Network Magazine
    serves 4

    kosher salt
    1 cup quinoa, rinsed

    2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    2 teaspoons cumin
    4 pork chops, center cut and boneless
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 can (15 oz) canned corn, drained
    2 scallions, thinly sliced
    salsa verde, for serving (optional)

    • Put a medium pot with 2 cups of water, a few good pinches of salt and the 1 cup quinoa over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and keep it at a simmer until water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
    • In a small bowl mix smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin and 2 teaspoons salt.  Once combined, use as a rub on the pork chops.  Coat all sides of the pork chops with the spice rub.  
    • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil, heat until shimmering.  Place the pork chops in the heated oil coated skillet.  Let sear on the first side, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until a golden brown crust forms.  Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes on the opposite side. 
    • Once quinoa is cooked, turn off heat and add corn and scallions.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
    • Serve one pork chop per person with quinoa.  Top pork chop with salse verde, if desired. 

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Barcelona Burger

    I found this recipe in an issue of Food Network Magazine.  I kept it in the back of my mind because of the use of manchego cheese.  We like spanish cheeses and enjoy manchego often, but I was waiting for a time when we had some leftover to use for these burgers.  It took while to have some leftover manchego.  These burgers were a great weeknight grilling meal.  The flavors were very spanish -- roasted red pepper, sherry vinegar, olives and smoked paprika complemented the manchego very well.  It was a great way to put a twist on a typical burger.  I served it with oven fries that I also put smoked paprika on to highlight that spice in the burger.  I chose to serve it on homemade burger buns, but did use an olive roll in the sauce.  I halved the olive oil to save some calories and doubled the smoked paprika because, well, I love smoked paprika.

    Barcelona Burger
    slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine
    serves 4

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 olive roll
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1/4 cup sliced almond
    1/2 cup roasted red peppers
    1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    kosher salt
    1 pound ground beef
    2 shallots, finely grated
    4 slices manchego cheese
    lettuce leaves
    4 burger rolls


    • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  While it heats, tear the olive roll into one inch pieces.  Add to the skillet along with the garlic.  Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Add almonds and cook about 3 additional minutes. 
    • Transfer bread chunks, garlic and almonds to a food processor.  Add roasted red pepper, vinegar, the remaining tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Pulse until a chunky sauce forms.  
    • Gently mix the ground beef, shallots, remaining teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt until combined.  Form into 4 patties.
    • Cook the patties, either in a large skillet over medium-high heat or on the grill, about 4-5 minutes per side.  During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time add cheese to the top of the burgers to melt. 
    • Toast the rolls, if desired, and spread the roasted red pepper sauce on both the tops and bottoms of rolls, about 2 tablespoons per roll.  Serve the burgers on the rolls with lettuce. 

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Pretzel Rolls: Secret Recipe Club

    As soon as I had sent Zach a link to my Secret Recipe Club blog assignment for this month, Patricia's ButterYum, I almost immediately got back a response that consisted solely of a link to the the recipe for these Pretzel Rolls.  And I can't say it was a bad choice!  These pretzel rolls immediately reminded me of the kind we get at our favorite grocery store, Wegmans.  They baked up deep golden brown and delicious.  They are great just out of the oven and taste just like a pretzel.  The remaining rolls would be great heated briefly in the oven, or a toaster oven, for just a few minutes until they get nice and crusty again on the outside and steamy and hot on the inside. 

    Pretzel Rolls
    from ButterYum

    2 3/4 cup bread flour
    2 1/4 teaspoon yeast (one packet)
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

    8 cups water
    1/4 cup baking soda
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 egg white, beaten
    coarse salt

    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine bread flour, yeast, kosher salt, sugar and water.  Use dough hook on low speed, mixing until dough ball forms.  Then move speed to medium-low and knead for one minute.  Coat a large bowl with oil and transfer dough to prepared bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and towel and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
    • Punch dough down and transfer on to floured work surface.  Cut into 16 equal pieces.  Work pieces into a circle with one smooth, tight, uniform 'skin' of dough.  Place on to parchment or silpat lined baking sheets, leaving space between rolls (I did two sets of 8 rolls on two half-sheet pans).  Let rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
    • During the last ten minutes of the second rise, First preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Then bring the 8 cups water, baking soad and sugar to a boil in a large pot.  When the shaped rolls have doubled in size, boil them for 30 seconds per side.  We fit 3-4 of the small sized rolls in the large pot at once.  
    • Remove from water, drain and place back on sheet pans. Brush with the beaten egg white and top with coarse salt.  Once salted you can use kitchen scissors to cut an X shape in the top of each roll.  This will help steam escape and keeps the round shape. 
    • Bake the rolls at 375 for 25 minutes, until a deep golden brown.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before eating. 

    Check out what everyone else made for Group B of the Secret Recipe Club!!

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Tilapia with Bacon Tomato Butter

    As soon as I had the first bite of this dish in my mouth I thought "Bacon tomato butter -- where have you been all my life??!!??"  It is seriously, seriously good stuff.  The best part (well, besides the bacon since bacon in any dish would clearly be the best part) is that it is made with cherry or grape tomatoes which means it will be easy to make year-round.  I tend to avoid regular full-size tomatoes when they aren't in season since the quality declines so much, but cherry and grape tomatoes are generally good all year round.  They are at their best in late summer, like any tomato, but I think they don't suffer as much over the winter months.  I know many localvore, seasonal eaters would disagree and consider eating any tomatoes in the dead of winter to be non-foodie behavior, but I'm okay with that.  

    I found this recipe in an issue of Cooking Light and I really don't know why I waited so long to make it.  Big mistake, huge, big mistake.  I made only one major change, using tilapia instead of mahimahi.  I think mahimahi would be great in this dish, we just had tilapia in the freezer so that's what I used.   I think it would be equally good over grilled or pan-cooked chicken as well.  Really, I mean, let's be honest -- there isn't much that I wouldn't eat bacon tomato butter on.  I also added more bacon than was called for in the original recipe, partly to use up what I had on hand, and partly because when is more bacon ever a bad thing??  I contemplated using the leftover bacon tomato mixture as a filling to a grilled cheese, but there wasn't any leftover.  Maybe next time I'll show some restraint and save some but I'm not making any promises.  ;-)

    Tilapia with Bacon Tomato Butter
    slightly adapted from Cooking Light, August 2010

    2 cups water
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    2 teaspoons sugar
    4 tilapia filets
    1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    4 slices bacon, finely chopped
    1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    2 tablespoons butter

    • Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow baking dish.  Add fish.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Remove fish and pat dry with paper towels. 
    • Heat grill.  Season fish with the 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt.  Place fish on grill, cook until done, flipping once, about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
    • While the fish is grilling, heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add bacon to pan.  Cook 5 minutes or until almost crisp.  Add garlic and cook for two more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add paprika and cook for 30 seconds, continuously stirring.  Add tomatoes and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in butter.
    • Serve fish fillets on plate, topping with bacon tomato butter, about 2 tablespoons on each fillet. 

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Summer Squash, Chicken and Rice Casserole

    I know, it's another zucchini recipe when the prime zucchini time has probably passed for most people.  They might be hanging out at many local farmer's markets though, so I wanted to get this up for those end of the season stragglers.  It calls for one yellow summer squash and one zucchini, but you could use two of either one, depending on your local supply.  This recipe makes a great side dish, or can be a main dish with a nice side salad.  It's a quick and easy way (even quicker if you use a to use up a decent amount of squash at once, and would make a great potluck dish or something to take to a sick/recovering friend or family member.  It's cheesy and creamy and comforting.  Yum.

    Summer Squash, Chicken and Rice Casserole

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 cup chicken broth (about 1 can)
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), halved lengthwise then thinly sliced
    1 medium yellow summer squash (about 8 ounces), halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
    2 cups cooked long-grain rice (I used brown)
    1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
    1 1/2 tablespoons flour
    1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
    Kosher salt and black pepper

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
    • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil to the pan, swirling to coat.  
    • Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place chicken in the pan.  Cook, turning once, about 6 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from pan and let rest for 10 minutes.
    • Add chopped onion to skillet, using a touch more oil if necessary and reducing the heat to medium.  Cook until softened and turning golden, 5-7 minutes. 
    • Add broth to pan and increase heat to medium-heat, bringing broth to a simmer.  Simmer until reduced by half.  
    • While the broth is simmering, shred the chicken and place in a large bowl.  When the broth is reduced add the broth and onions to the bowl with the chicken. 
    • Return pan to heat and melt butter.  Add zucchini and yellow squash to pan, sauteing until softened and just starting to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add squash to bowl with chicken.  Also add rice and rosemary to the bowl.  Stir to combine.
    • In a medium saucepan over medium heat stir flour.  As you stir the flour, slowly pour in milk, making sure to stir or whisk until smooth.  Bring to a boil.  Cook one minute, until thickened.  
    • Remove from heat and add in 1/4 cup of the cheese.  Stir until smooth and add in 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.  Add milk mixture to the large bowl of the chicken mixture.  
    • Transfer chicken mixture to the prepared 8x8 baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place in the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  
    • Remove from oven and turn on broiler.  Broil casserole until golden, about 5 minutes. 

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Zuchinni Parmesan Loaf

    I know this recipe might be a bit late for prime zucchini season, but I'm hoping people will give it a try with the end of the season zucchinis rolling in.  I had saved this recipe from a magazine years ago.  I remembered it while trying to think of something different to do with our growing pile of green squashes.  I opted for this since it is a savory bread and not the usual cinnamon spiced zucchini bread -- not that I dislike those breads, cinnamon is one of my favorite flavors, but week after week of typical zucchini bread can wear on even the biggest cinnamon lover.  It has the nutty, salty parmesan flavor and would be a great side to many dinner dishes and even a savory breakfast addition, say, toasted and slathered with butter along side scrambled eggs with cheese.

    Zucchini Parmesan Loaf
    Serves 8

    2 cups flour
    1 cup grated parmesan cheese
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/3 cup milk
    2 eggs
    1/2 pound (about 1 medium) zucchini, coarsely grated

    • Preheat oven to 375 and spray a loaf pan (9x5) with non-stick spray.
    • In a large bowl combine flour, cheese, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  
    • In a medium bowl combine olive oil, milk and eggs.  Beat with a whisk.  
    • Add grated zucchini to flour mixture, stir to combine.  Then add liquid ingredients to the flour/zucchini mixture.  Stir until just moistened.
    • Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake 60-70 minutes.  It's ready when a toothpick comes out clean.  
    • Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Coffee Ice Cream: BAKED Sunday Mornings

    Coffee is essential to me in the mornings.  Especially as the new school year approaches my two cups a day will be critical.  I am odd though in that I like my coffee as a vehicle for carrying other flavors.  I am all about the tasty flavored creamers, syrups and such.  I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of pumpkin spice flavors at the coffeeshops this fall.  Coffee is also one of the foods that Zach used to 'hate' but now enjoys (add to that list hot dogs and olives).  I'd like to think I had a little to do with his change of opinion.  If I would have made this ice cream previously he probably would have made a disgusted face and said ew.  Now he will gladly help me eat it!  It is rich and delicious and perfectly coffee-y.  The small addition of Kahlua is perfect.  I made just one change -- reversing the amounts of cream and milk.  I opted for 2% milk instead of whole since it's what we normally drink, so I used 2 cups of cream to offset the loss of fat in the milk switch and did 1 and 3/4 cups of milk.  It still turned out perfectly creamy and with great texture (not icy!).

    You can find the recipe here and see how the other bloggers fared here and here.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Summer Succotash: Secret Recipe Club

    For this month's Secret Recipe Club I was assigned Sweet Flours written by Allison.  Allison is a young mom with a sweet tooth!  Her lovely blog (such a great, simple, elegant design -- you should really check it out!) is filled with tempting sweets and treats.  So many that it was impossible to decide on just one, so I went the other direction and chose one of her savory dishes.  When I picked this recipe Zach was shocked.  I don't do lima beans, one of the typical main ingredients in succotash.  Limas and succotash were always one of my sister's favorite sides growing up (as were peas -- ick!) so I only ever thought of it as lima beans and corn.  I love that Allison's recipe got me to open up my mind about succotash!  

    It was such a great recipe for summer -- it highlights the veggies at their best, barely cooked and so fresh.  We used corn that Zach bought that day at a farmer's market and the farmer said it was picked that morning.  Unless you're lucky enough to grow corn in your backyard it can't get much fresher than that!  It was delicious and quick.  The leftovers made a satisfying lunch.  I'm already envisioning a mexican version -- swapping in black beans and spices like cumin, paprika and fresh cilantro.  I did make a few changes -- I switched out cannellini beans for the butter beans, throw in some peppers, use an extra ear of corn, used all yellow summer squash and to double up on the seasoning since I had added in the extra veggies.

    Summer Succotash
    slightly adapted from Sweet Flours

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 large onion, chopped
    5 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
    2 large yellow summer squash

    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1 can (15 oz.) canellini beans, drained
    1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    1/4 cup chopped basil


    • Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
    • Add the onion, corn, squash, salt and pepper to the pan.  Saute until tender, 5-7 minutes.  
    • Add the beans and cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes more.
    • Remove pan from heat and stir in the tomatoes and basil.
    • Serve and enjoy!

    Check out these links to see what other fantastic recipes were posted today in the Secret Recipe Club!

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Orange Olive Oil Bundt Cake: BAKED Sunday Mornings

    I feel like I should start referring to these posts as BAKED Sunday Afternoons, since I never seem to get my post together in time.  Ahh well, such is life.  I'm jumping back in this week after missing the last couple challenges.  This was partly due to spending most of those weekends away from home, and partly that the two recipes didn't appeal to me that much.  I'm not a fruit girl, so blackberry or peach pie didn't really make the cut of things-to-shove-into-the-48-hours-I-spent-at-home-in-three-weeks list.  

    But, anyway, on to this week's recipe -- Orange Olive Oil Bundt Cake.  Unfortunately I can't even say that much about it yet.  I made it this afternoon to serve as a dessert this evening.  Even though it's in the Baked cookbook under 'Breakfast' I'm serving it after a spanish meal of paella, and I think the olive oil and citrus will pair nicely with the dinner.  I wasn't all that excited about the cake to be honest.  As I said, I'm not a fruit girl, and typically I don't go for citrus based flavors.  So, I expected not to like it, but after tasting the batter I'm pretty intrigued.  The olive oil really came through and the citrus was more of an afternote.  We will see what the finished cake tastes like, but I have high hopes!

    Head on over to BAKED Sunday Mornings to see everyone else's cakes and to get the recipe!

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Cilantro Shrimp Scampi

    So.... I wrote this back in May but never got around to uploading the picture and posting it.  I am a bad blogger.  But, now that I am on summer vacation and finally home after three weeks of travelling I hope to get back to a regular posting schedule.  Most importantly, I hope to knock out the vast majority of over 40 draft posts I have sitting half-composed, and make major progress on my 30 in 30 list.  I wrote it up back in November, and actually have made quite a few things, but just haven't gotten them posted yet.  I've got just under 4 months to go and at least 30 posts to get up in that time, so watch out for lots of new recipes!!

    This is the second recipe I'm posting from my Cookbook of the Month, the Foster Harris House Cookbook.  When I decided to make this the pick for the month, I did what I usually do for my monthly pick, stick post-it notes on the recipes I'd most like to make/highlight in the month's posts.  Then I hand it over to Zach and ask him to pick what he would like.  My choices are like the first round and his are the second round, since he will usually pick one or two of the 10-12 I've chosen.  As soon as I saw this recipe in the book I knew it would make it past Zach's second round.  He loves anything with cilantro, so you don't have to look much further than the name of the recipe to know he's going to pick it. 

    This was super easy and quick to put together on a weeknight.  The notes on the recipe in the book say that while most people serve scampi with pasta, they prefer it with basmati rice to soak up the sauce.  We served it with a parmesan orzo and it paired really well together.

    Cilantro Shrimp Scampi
    Serves 4

    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 pound large peeled, deveined shrimp
    4 tablespoons minced garlic
    pinch of cayenne pepper
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    2 tablespoons lime juice
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
    6 tablespoons butter

    • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate with tongs, leaving the oil in the skillet.
    • Add garlic, cayenne, wine, lime juice, salt and pepper to the remaining oil.  Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. 
    • Add butter to skillet, stir until melted, then add shrimp.  
    • Serve on top of pasta or rice, whichever you desire.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Salt and Pepper Oven Fries: Secret Recipe Club

    Last month I read on one of my favorite blogs, Beantown Baker, about The Secret Recipe Club.  Basically, you join up and at the beginning of the month you are randomly assigned a different blog.  You peruse that blog and pick a recipe from it to make.  Everyone in the Secret Recipe Club posts their chose recipe on the given date and time.  It sounded like a great way to see a few new blogs and try a few new recipes.  So, I joined!

    This month I was assigned This Mama Cooks!  There were lots of great recipes to chose from, but I chose something fairly simple, yet I can never get quite right -- oven fries.  Sometimes mine turn out crispy, but sometimes mushy, sometimes burnt even!  I think it's because I don't really rely on a recipe, I just wing it hoping it will turn out okay, but it doesn't always.  So, I figured this was a good chance to follow a recipe, hoping it would give me a foolproof result and it did!  These were crispy and crunchy and delicious!  They would be a great side dish to just about anything -- what doesn't go with fries really??  I cut the recipe in half since there are only two of us, and leftover fries really aren't that great, but otherwise I kept it almost the same.  I did up the amount of pepper, since we like black pepper, and omitted the parsley since we were out of it.

    Salt and Pepper Oven Fries
    slightly adapted from This Mama Cooks!


    1/2 pound potatoes, cut into wedges
    2 Tablespoons oil (canola or olive, I used olive)
    1 garlic clove, chopped
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground


    • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  On a medium baking sheet, spray cooking spray to coat the bottom surface.
    • Cut potatoes into long wedges.  In a medium bowl, toss potato wedges with 1 tablespoon oil.  
    • On prepared baking sheet, lay out potato wedges in a single layer.
    • Bake for 15 minutes, flip the wedges over and bake for 15 more minutes.  Potatoes should be golden brown and crispy.  
    • When you turn the wedges over, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook over medium-low heat until golden, about 4 minutes.
    • Pour the garlic oil over the wedges, adding in the salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and serve.  

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Cowboy Cookies: BAKED Sunday Mornings

    I was a bad blogger and skipped out on the last BAKED Sunday Mornings recipe.  This time of year is my very busiest at school and I had so much going on I had no time for 'extra' cooking.  But I'm back in the game for this recipe.  These are called Cowboy Cookies, but as the description in the book says, there's no real reason they are associated with cowboys.  They are basically oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (which are some of my favorites -- when you put a whole grain like oatmeal in, then you can try and convince yourself that the cookies are healthy!) with the addition of salty, crunchy bits of pretzels.  Being someone who adds salt to just about everything, even watermelon and buttered toast, I welcomed the pretzels. 

    The cookies are delicious!  Chewy and chocolaty and salty, and with that bit of oatmeal you can count them towards your whole grain count for the day.  ;-)  I didn't read the recipe thoroughly beforehand and therefore did not realize the dough should be chilled for 4 hours prior to baking.  I didn't really have time for that on a weeknight, so I let them chill about an hour and a half and went for it.  I knew it meant they would spread a bit, but I was okay with the consequences.  I could taste the bit of coffee in the dough, but not in the final cookie.  They are a great variation on the basic chocolate chip cookie and we'll definitely be making them again.  

    Head on over to BAKED Sunday Mornings to see everyone else's cookies and to get the recipe!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Mushroom Provolone Patty Melt

    I cut this recipe out of a fall copy of Cooking Light.  It had been in the back of my mind since then, always as a menu idea, but never quite making it on the menu.  Then we bought some ground beef in bulk and I was looking for something else besides the standard burgers or meatloaf to do with it and this recipe came to mind.  It also uses beer, which is never a bad thing in a recipe in my opinion.  

    It made a quick and pretty tasty weeknight dinner.  I really enjoyed it and it will definitely show up again in our meal rotation.  The flavors were great, the earthiness of the mushrooms paired well with the dark beer and the beef patties.  I really liked it and I took one of the extra sandwiches with me the next day for lunch.  I prefer the fresh out of the pan version, but it worked well as a leftover, cold sandwich as well. 

    Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melt
    slightly adapted from Cooking Light
    serves 4


    1 pound ground beef
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    8 ounces mushrooms (white or cremini), sliced 
    1 1/2 teaspoons flour
    1/4 cup dark beer (such as porter or stout)
    8 slices bread (I used sourdough, but you can use your preference.)
    Spreadable butter or margarine
    4 slices provolone cheese

    • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Shape beef into 4 (4 inch) patties. Add patties, cook 4 minutes on each side or until done.
    • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, salt, pepper, and mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer and cook 30 seconds or until thickened. Remove from heat.
    • When patties are done, remove from skillet. Wipe pan clean and reheat over medium high heat. Coat 1 side of each bread slice with butter or margarine. Place 4 bread slices, coated sides down, in pan. Top each with a patty, cheese slice, and one quarter of mushroom mixture. Top with remaining bread slices and then spread with butter or margarine. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Asparagus Risotto

    This recipe is the first from my Cookbook of the Month, the Foster Harris House Cookbook.  I chose it because we always have arborio rice on hand and all the other ingredients except the asparagus.  Asparagus was on sale for 1.99 a pound at a local grocery store so I picked some up with no specific plan.  I flipped through this book and decided it would be a perfect match.  This was a fairly straight-forward risotto recipe, except for the first few steps  You cook the asparagus in chicken stock that you then keep simmering on the stove to use as the cooking liquid for the rice.  This maximizes the asparagus-ness of the risotto and makes for one less pot to clean!  It was delicious and had a great spring flavor.  I hope to make it again soon as we start to get our weekly CSA boxes and can use some of the farm-fresh asparagus we will get early in the season.

    Asparagus Risotto 

    1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock
    1 pound asparagus
    4 tablespoons butter, divided in half
    4 tablespoons oil, divided in half
    1 medium onion, chopped
    2 cups Arborio rice
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
    salt and pepper

    • Trim ends off asparagus.  Cut on the bias into 1/4 inch pieces, saving the top 2-3 inches as whole spears.  
    • Heat the chicken stock to a simmer.  Cook asparagus in chicken stock for 5 minutes, or until al dente.  Remove from stock and keep in a cool water bath.  Return stock to a simmer.
    • In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add rice and stir, cooking for 2-3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until liquid is absorbed.  
    • Add about half a cup of stock at a time to the rice and onion mixture.  Stir frequently until liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding the stock, half a cup at time, stirring in between and adding more stock once the last addition is absorbed.  The rice will get thick and creamy.  Taste the rice towards the end of the process, you are looking for it to be al dente, with just a bit of bite in the middle.  
    • Add the chopped asparagus, 1/2 cup of cheese and the remaining butter and olive oil.  Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
    • Serve risotto, topping with spears and extra parmesan.