Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pretzel Rolls

Last Thursday I was on my way back home to Elyria, Ohio for my 16-year high school reunion. Some people have asked why a 16-year reunion? Apparently, our "normal" 15-year reunion snuck up on the organizers too fast and I think I can appreciate that. After all, where does the time go? My three best friends and I piled into the car, a little on the nervous side, and drove to the reunion. The venue was a neighborhood bar, owned by a girl we graduated with. Invitations were sent out via facebook only, and even though there wasn't a huge turnout, it was still a lot of fun. There were many people from our elementary school, old friends, old prom dates, and even a couple of old enemies. As usual, there were a couple of highlights during the evening:

  • We played quite a few old Michael Jackson songs. We remembered when we were in 3rd grade and our elementary school let us watch the "making of the thriller video". We remembered the free Michael Jackson poster in the local newspaper that adorned our rooms, our white gloves, our off-the-shoulder tops that said "Thriller", and we laughed when we remembered our elementary school art teacher doing the moondance for us. We celebrated the good memories of Michael Jackson.

  • My senior prom date apologized to me for his behavior on prom night.

  • My girlfriends and I laughed as we woofed down our Smitty Burgers before anyone could come over and talk with us. Who wants to be chowing down on a burger, with special sauce, and be confronted with someone you haven't seen in 16 years??

  • When the reunion was over, my friend and I went to Rally's, where we worked in high school. We decided to give "A" side a "fast car". (For those of you who haven't worked fast food, the fast car is any car that goes through the drive thru in about 30 seconds). The fast car was always the goal for us back in the day. After the store closed at night, we would ride our bicycles through the drive thru windows to bring our time down for the night. We shared this with the girl who was working the drive thru window and she thought we were crazy. We laughed so hard it hurt.

I made these pretzel rolls before I left for the reunion. I served them with Dr. Tyler's Chicken Meatball and Tortellini Soup. The recipe for the pretzel rolls can be found here. The first time we had pretzel rolls was at Cinderella's castle inside the WDW themepark. The whole meal was a royal treat, but my husband's favorite part was the pretzel rolls with the mustard butter. I found Aida's recipe online and decided to give them a try. They were delicious, soft, buttery, and gone in about 1 hour!! The recipe makes 8 very soft, fluffy, salty, buttery delicious rolls. I will be making this recipe over and over. The rolls do not keep very well, so they are best eaten after coming out of the oven. Give them a try, you won't be disappointed!!

I am submitting this recipe to Sandy over at Bake Your Own Bread for the July 1st round up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Ultimate Lasagna Bolognese

Since I first started blogging in January, I have cooked a little over 50 of Tyler's recipes!! Of the 50 or so recipes that I've tried, there are many that were favorites and have been made over and over again in my kitchen. It seems like the perfect time to share my top favorites with you!
Hands down, my all-time favorite Tyler recipe is the Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookie . I have easily made this cookie recipe at least eight to ten times. They are the best, chewy, and chocolately cookies out there.

Some of my other Tyler favorites are: Parker House Rolls, Wonderful White Bread, Amaretto Chocolate Brownies, Perfect Roast Chicken, Grilled Flatbread with Caramelized Onions, Grapes, Mascarpone, Walnuts and Gorgonzola, Chicken Marsala, Chicken Breasts with Oranges, Olives and New Potato, The Ultimate Onion Rings, Berry-Brioche Bread Pudding, Bourbon and Chocolate Pecan Pie, Pulled Pork, Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Braised Brisket, and now my new favorite is this recipe, THE ULTIMATE LASAGNA BOLOGNESE.
My husband, who is never quick to dole out compliments, declared this recipe one of the top ten best things that I have ever cooked!! My husband was having a pretty bad day, wasn't hungry for lasagna, and was a little perturbed about waiting for it to cool down for 15 minutes. When he started eating it, he kept saying that it was really, really good. He was even teasing me about not eating anymore so that he could save it and eat it all up while I was gone this weekend! This recipe gets the five-star rating from me. It will be added to my dinner rotation AND I will recommend it to everyone!! When I love a recipe this much, I will make it for potlucks, celebrations, as a gift for a new mom, etc.

The lasagna does take about 3 hours and no, I didn't make my own pasta. I actually made this recipe because I've had some packaged lasagna noodles in my pantry for almost a year! That's right.....I never make lasagna. My husband and I are not big lovers of lasagna, until now!! I had all the ingredients for this in my pantry and only had to find some ground pork to complete the recipe. I couldn't locate ground pork at my local country grocery store, so I bought some spicy Italian sausage and substituted that instead. There is no ricotta or cottage cheese in this lasagna. Instead Tyler uses a cramy bechamel sauce. The bolognese was a little spicy and had a wonderful complex flavor. There was a 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes added to the bechamel, but the bolognese didn't an overwhelming taste of tomato. It was overall just a wonderful version of lasagna. Please try this one and I guarantee you that the men in your life will thank you!!

THE ULTIMATE LASAGNA BOLOGNESE, Dinner at My Place, by Tyler Florence
  • 1 recipe fresh pasta dough (see page 27 of Dinner at My Place) or use up your pantry packaged lasagna noodles like I did : )


  • 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut into large pieces
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into large pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 fresh sage sprigs, leaves only
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used black angus, we prefer this much more)
  • 1 pound ground pork (I couldn't locate ground pork so I used spicy Italian sausage)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine (I only had 1/2 bottle left and used only 1/2)
  • 1-28 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes (I usually use Red Gold brand)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I didn't add this, I was afraid my husband wouldn't like it)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley


  • 2 cups whole milk (I used 2%, I don't usually have whole)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound buffalo mozzarella, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Begin by making the Fresh Pasta Dough or by soaking your packaged noodles in a bowl of hot water, turning so they can soften.

To make bolognese, put carrot, onion, clelery, garlic and sage in a food processor and process until you have smooth vegetable pulp. coat a large, heavy-based pot with oil and set over mediium heat. Add vegetable pulp and saute until fragrant and some of the moisture has evaporated, 4-5 minutes. Push the vegetable pulp to one side of the pot. Season ground beef and pork with plenty of salt and pepper, then add to the pot. Stir and break up the meat until it is brown, then dust with the 2 tbsp. of flour before adding wine, tomatoes, milk, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 1-1/2 hours, uncovered, until sauce is thick. Add parmesan and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the Bechamel.

To make the Bechamel, set a large saucepan over medium heat. Add milk, garlic, and a bay leaf and bring to a simmer to infuse milk with herb flavors. Set a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add butter and melt, then sprinkle in flour while you stir with a wooden spoon. Once all of the flour has been combined with the butter, grab a whisk and gradually pour in the herb-infused milk, passing it through a sieve as you go to strain out the aromatics. As the sauce thickens, continue to whisk over low heat, then add nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350F. To assemble the lasagna, cut the hang-dried pasta sheets to fit a 9x13x3" lasagna pan; set the pasta aside. Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with a thin layer of Bechamel. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, trimming noodles to fit as necessary. Top the noodle layer with a layer each of Bechamel, Bolognese, and mozzarella pieces. Continue with the layers of lasagna noodles, Bechamel, Bolognese, and mozzarella pieces until you have three complete layers, finishing with mozzarella. Shower the top of the lasagna with Parmesan and parsley. Bake, uncovered, on a trap (to catch the drippings) in the center of the preheated oven for 1 hour. (If the top starts to brown, tent with foil). Let the lasagna stand for 15-20 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy the best lasagna you have ever put in your mouth!! I am submitting this dish to the weekly roundup at Tyler Florence Fridays. Stop by this Friday evening to see what all the others made.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Breakfast Bars

I absolutely adore Nigella Lawson. She has such a great personality and it shines through when watching her on screen. I love that she is such a "real" person and is not too polite or proper. find myself laughing to myself when she is slinging the food all over the place. To put it simply, she just doesn't take herself too seriously and I really enjoy that. That being said, I had always loved watching her. However, I never really put much thought into making any of her recipes. I received her cookbook, Nigella Express, in the mail and I love it. I bookmarked all kinds of recipes to make in the next few weeks. These breakfast bars were at the top of the list. I've always wanted to make my own granola. When I saw Nigella's version containing condensed milk, I knew I had a winner!! Condensed milk is like liquid gold...you just can't go wrong with it. I made these bars from pantry ingredients (changed a few to please my family). They were delicious and kept great in a tin for up to one week. My picky husband and daughter ate them all. This recipe gets the keeper status in our house.

  • 1- 14oz. can condensed milk
  • 2 -1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup dried cranberries *I used 1 cup chocolate chips*
  • 1 cup mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame) *I used combo of pecans and walnuts*
  • 1 cup unsalted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 250F and oil a 9x13 inch baking pan or a disposible aluminium foil one.

Warm the condensed milk in a large pan.

Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together and add the warmed condensed milk using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute.

Spread the mixture into the oiled or foil pan and press down with a spatula or better still, use your hands (wearing those disposible latex CSI gloves to stop you from sticking) to make the surface even.

Bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and four down to make 16 chunky bars. let cool completely.

Makes 16 and enjoy!! They are even better the next day and the day after (if they last that long).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Penne with Spicy Italian Sausage, Cream, Tomatoes, and Peas

Do you go through phases with cooking? In the past few months, I have worked my way through my obsession with baking bread and my obsession with Recipezaar. I have moved onto my obsession with one of Tyler's new books, Dinner at My Place. Obsession number two, otherwise known as the farmer's market, is currently being fueled by Dinner at My Place. You might be wondering how a spicy sausage pasta dish is inspired by the farmer's market.......

While I was roaming the stalls of the farmer's market last week I heard quite a bit of commotion. Curious about all the noise, my daughter and I headed over to see what was going on. That is when we met "THE QUEEN OF SAUSAGE". (I thought of Donna instantly) The self-proclaimed "Queen of Sausage" was sitting on top of an old galvanized trash can in the back of an old pickup truck. She was dressed to draw attention and was wielding a sign declaring her royalty. She looked like she was having the time of her life, drawing a crowd, handing out samples, and screaming about being the Queen of Sausage. I'm glad that the sausage sample was delicious because there was no way I could refuse her. How can you turn down the Queen of Sausage? In fact, I think it could almost be considered unamerican!!

This was no ordinary sausage!! I knew I had to make something special, so I turned to Tyler and he did not let me down. While following Tyler Florence Fridays I have seen many people make this dish. I have read mixed reviews about the peas in this dish and decided to try something a little different. There were some ladies selling handcrafted pasta and I spotted some orecchiete, otherwise known as "little ears". I love all pasta, but I thought maybe this pasta would hold onto the peas better than the penne, and it did : ) So, I was happy to use freshly made pasta, local sausage and local peas. This recipe is packed with flavor and I absolutely loved it. How can you go wrong with pasta and a cream sauce?? This recipe is a keeper for me!


  • 4 links spicy Italian sausage (It does help if it comes from the "queen of sausage")

  • 1 pound dried penne (I used orecchiete)

  • extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

  • 1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes (Gasp...I used Red Gold)

  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 2 cups peas, blanced

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the sausages in a roasting pan and roast in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until slightly golden and just cooked. Cut sausage at an angle into bite-size pieces.

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until tender yet firm (al dente).

Set a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat and add a 2-count of olive oil (about 2 tbsp). Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent and fragrant. Add tomatoes and basil; season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, then fold in cream and continue to simmer until rich and creamy. Add sausage, blanced peas, and parmigiano. Fold together and cook for 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Serve topped with a shower of cheese and garnish with basil.

This dish is even better the next day!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Honey Lavender Gelato

This time next week I will be in my hometown getting ready to attend my 15 year high school reunion. My friends and I have been to the 5 and 10 year reunion and had a blast. But this time is different. Now we all have been married for years, have several children and signs of aging are starting to show. We aren't in our twenties anymore! We grew up a little bit. In the past five years I have changed alot. I had back surgery and a second child, both contributing to my 25 pound weight gain, over half of my hair turned gray, and now I've started noticing laugh lines. I noticed that I started to feel silly walking into youthful trendy shops in the mall. Maybe it was because my two kids were acting up or screaming and drawing attention.

My big point is that somewhere in my early thirties I felt a little bit of my youth slipping away. I think this is what my friends are feeling and it makes them nervous about going to the reunion. However, the same thing is happening to everyone our age. Everyone attending that reunion is going to be nervous about something. No one is going to look like they did 15 years ago.

As I was making this ice cream I was thinking to myself, "do I really need to be eating this now". My answer is.....yes, I do!! This ice cream is in celebration of the reunion next weekend. Sometimes we have to own up to who we are and celebrate it. Maybe you've gained weight, gone gray, lost your hair, and have laugh lines. It happens to all of us at one point or another....so celebrate it and enjoy!!

I chose this gelato recipe because it is different and unique. I also love honey! It is surprisingly rich and decadent. In fact, it is so rich and decadent that you can only eat a small amount. The gelato turns out a beautiful honey color and has a definite honey flavor to it. You must love honey to eat this ice cream. I think it would be great with crepes, waffles, french toast, pancakes....you get the idea, right : )

  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of lavender (wrapped in cheesecloth or a tea ball)
  • 1 cup of local honey
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2 cups of cold heavy cream

Add first 2 cups of heavy cream and lavender (wrapped in cheesecloth or tea ball) to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for just a minute and remove from heat. Whisk the honey, sugar and egg yolks together until they are pale yellow. Do not let the honey, sugar, and egg yolks mixture set for too long. The sugar will start to cook the egg yolks. Add the warm cream to the egg yolk misture and whisk. Place back over low heat and stir until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the cold cream. Chill this mixture until completely cool. Place in your ice cream maker aand spin until it's smooth and set. In my machine it took about 30 minutes.

This recipe makes a ton of gelato. I cut the recipe in half and still had more than enough.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Braised Beef Brisket

Last week on Tyler Florence Fridays, Beth at The Seventh Level of Boredom made this amazing Braised Beef Brisket. Beth gave this recipe a rave review saying that it was absolutely fabulous and that she would love to add it to her dinner rotation. I couldn't agree more!! I made this recipe yesterday and thought it was heavenly!! The brisket was tender and juicy and the sauce was zesty and flavorful. I served the brisket with Tyler's Mashed Potatoes and watched as my family devoured the meal. The kids were begging for more mashed potatoes and there were no more : ) I will also be adding this meal to my dinner rotation.

BRAISED BEEF BRISKET by Tyler Florence, Dinner at My Place
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 fresh rosemary sprigs, needles stripped from the stem and chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 4-pound beef brisket (first cut)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large carrots, cut into 3-inch chunks
3 ribs celery, cut into 3-inch chunks
2 onions, halved
2 cups dry red wine
1 16-ounce can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed
1 handful fresh italian flat-leaf parsley
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon a/p flour (optional)
2 tablespoons water or dry red wine (optional)
1 bunch hydroponic watercress, for garnish (optional) *I could not locate watercress

Preheat oven to 325F. On a cutting board, mash the garlic and 1/2 tsp. salt together with the flat side of a knife until it turns into a paste. Add the rosemary and continue to mash until incorporated. Put the garlic-rosemary paste in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the oil; stir to combine. Set aside.

Season both sides of the brisket withp plenty of salt and pepper. Rub the rosemary-garlic paste over the brisket. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Place a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over med-high heat. When the pan is hot, place the brisket in the roasting pan and sear to form a nice brown crust on both sides, adding additional oil as necessary to prevent sticking. Lay the vegetables all around the brisket. Add the wine, tomatoes, tomato liquid, parsley, and bay leaves. Cover the pan tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 3-4 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork-tender. NOTE** I actually cooked my brisket in my crock pot. The brisket was still delicous and I didn't have to baste every 30 minutes or heat up my kitchen**

Remove the brisket from pan and place on a cutting board. Allow brisket to rest for 15 minutes. Remove vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon; discard vegetables. Skim some of the excess fat from the pan juices, leaving about 1/4 cup fat in the pan; place the roasting pan with the pan juices and fat over medium-high heat. Boil and stir about 5 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by half. (For a thicker sauce, mix the 1 tbsp. flour with the 2 tbsp. water and whisk into the gravy.) Slice brisket and serve with sauce over Parsnip Puree or Mashed Potatoes. If you like, garnish each plate with watercress. I garnished my plate with chives. I love the combinations of chives with potatoes.

I highly recommend this recipe. It's a keeper!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Garden Puree Bruschetta

I have been able to do a lot of shopping at the farmer's market lately. I am both impressed and excited about the new and improved market this year. I have found many things that were not available before. I noticed that a lot of my recent finds from the market coincide with Tyler's new book, Dinner at My Place. I have several recipes bookmarked to make in the next couple weeks. I have been eyeing this recipe for bruschetta ever since I first received this cookbook. I was awed by the color of the puree and knew instantly that I would love this recipe. I was lucky enough to find all the vegetables and a whole wheat baguette at the farmer's market Saturday.

GARDEN PUREE BRUSCHETTA, by Tyler Florence, Dinner at My Place

  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 pound English peas, shelled, or 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, tips only (2-1/2" pieces)
  • 1/2 pound haricot verts or tender green beans, trimmed
  • 2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 green onions, green parts only, roughly chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh chives (about 8 chives), for garnish
  • 1 French baguette
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the sugar snap peas, English peas, asparagus tips, and haricot verts and cook about 3 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. (If you're using frozen peas, add them during the last minute of cooking). Drain, transfer to a bowl of salated ice water to stop cooking, and drain again. Puree vegetables in a food processor with the ricotta, green onion, a drizzle of oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Garnish with chives.

Prepare the Crostini by cutting the baguette into thin slices. Drizzle slices with oil and place on a roasting tray. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown on both sides. Remove from oven and rub with a peeled, cut clove of garlic while bread is still warm. Serve crostini with vegetable and cheese puree.

The blanching of the vegetables allows the puree to become a vibrant green color. Blanching the veggies also alows the veggies to keep most of their nutritional content. I would say that this is a fairly healthy dish, especially when paired with a whole wheat baguette. Tyler calls for whole-milk ricotta, but I only had part-skim and it worked out just fine. I really enjoyed this as a light lunch. I think it would make a great appetizer/crudite for spring or summer. I am toying with the idea of using the leftover puree as a filling in a veggie lasagna.

If you love green veggies, then this recipe is a must try!!

I am submitting this recipe to Tyler Florence Fridays. Head on over to the TFF site to see what everyone is making this week. There is always a great variety of delicious dishes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roasted Chili Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, and Pan Roasted Corn Salad with Red Pepper and Feta

Our Williams-Sonoma used to offer cooking classes right in their store. They would hire local chefs to come in and prepare signature dishes. The cooking classes would have specific themes, such as: Risotto, Tapas, Pasta, etc. The chef would make several dishes pertaining to that theme and then we got to eat it all!! Taking those cooking classes up at the mall was so much fun. I met a lot of other foodies and I always enjoyed myself. The cooking classes are not available anymore and I really miss them. I have a huge folder of recipes saved from those cooking classes.
This Roasted Chili Chicken and the Pan Roasted Corn Salad with Peppers and Feta came from a cooking class entitled Quick Weeknight Dinners. The idea was to cook a whole chicken and have leftovers for the next night. I made these two dishes today and let me tell you what.......there were no leftovers!!
The skin on this chicken is crispy, slightly spicy, and so flavorful. The meat is so moist and it pairs wonderfully with this pan-roasted corn salad. This corn salad is one of my favorite summertime salads to make. Everything is served at room temperature, it is healthy, bursting with flavor and goes well with many things. I had to throw in a dish from Tyler, so I made his Roasted Potatoes from Dinner at My Place. This dinner was delicious and healthy!! Even my two year old was asking for more.

1 chicken, 3-3.5 lbs
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
Mix together the spice rub and set aside. Rinse chicken under cold water, removing any packages inside the cavity. Pat dry with paper towels. Remove and discard any loose fat. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a prepared pan. Rub the spice rub all over the otuside of the chicken. Roast until the leg joints move easily, the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced, or an instant read thermometer reads 170F. This usually takes 50-60 minutes. Transfer chicken to a carving board, cover and let rest 10 minutes before carving.
I had some baby new potatoes and yukon gold potatoes from the farmer's market last week. I decided to use them for Tyler's herb roasted potatoes. Tyler's recipe calls for 6 yukon gold potatoes, EVOO, 4 rosemary sprigs, and 1 garlic head, cut in half through the equator. He puts his roasting tray in the oven at 350F to get the pan hot. Once the pan is hot, Tyler adds EVOO, and then the potatoes, rosemary, and garlic. He sprinkles with salt and pepper and roasts at 350F for about an hour until crispy and golden. I loved his method of preheating the roasting tray. This was a new technique for me and I will do this from now on. You could hear those potatoes sizzle when they went onto the tray. The end result was a very crispy and golden roasted potato that was loaded with garlic flavor. My husband said this was the best thing on the plate and my 2 year old was screaming for more!! NOTE: I roasted my potatoes at 400F alongside the chicken. The potatoes were done in 45 minutes. If you roast at 350F, it would take about an hour.
This corn salad is so unique and different from any other summertime salad. When I watched the chef make this salad I thought she was crazy. I was thinking to myself that basil and feta didn't go with corn. I couldn't have been more wrong about these flavor combinations. This salad is really a treat. It is served room temperature and everyone is always pleasantly surprised with it. It pairs well with almost any meat dish and is also great all on its own. I made some changes to the recipe that I will share with you.
4 ears of corn, husks and silk removed (I used 1 can of corn and made half this recipe)
2-3 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
1 bunch green onions, green portion only (I used about 6 chives)
2-3 cups halved cherry tomatoes (I used about 1/2 red pepper)
8 oz. feta cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes (I used 3 oz. fat-free feta cheese)
Juiced of 1/2 lime, plus more to taste, if needed
2 tbsp. finely slivered fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Cut corn from cob. You will need about 3 -1/2 cups for this recipe. NOTE: I used 1 can of corn and halved this recipe. In a large nonstick pan, Add 1-2 tbsp. butter and 1-2 tbsp. olive oil and saute minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add corn and saute another 3-4 minutes. Add thyme and green onions and saute another minute. NOTE: I did not have thyme and used chives instead of green onions. I skipped this step and added chives at the end with the basil. Let corn mixture cool until it reaches room temperature. (This takes about 30 minutes)
Once the mixture is room temperature, add the halved tomatoes, cubed feta cheese, juice of 1/2 lime, remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, basil and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie *Recipe #38 - page 192*

I love going to our local Farmer's Market on Saturdays. It's always exciting to see what goodies you might come across. I finally got a chance to go this past Saturday and I was really impressed. This year our Farmer's Market moved its location and was able to increase space and vendors!! There was so much to see, smell, and TASTE! There were local artisans selling their arts and crafts. Plus, we were able to see our favorite musicans.
There were so many things available that I can't locate in stores around here. I finally found the rhubarb to make this pie!! I also found fresh english peas, pea shoots, goat cheese, homemade Italian sausage, sour cherries, and the juiciest peaches ever! The best news was that everything was priced so well and I was able to beat store prices. I can't wait to go again!!
I have been waiting for the right time to make Tyler's Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie and today was the day. We had a huge thunderstorm and it was the perfect chance to stay in and bake. The crust came together like a dream and the filling was super simple. The hardest part was waiting for the pie to bake the much needed 1 hour and 15 minutes!! I have full faith in Tyler's baking recipes and I found myself continually peeking through the oven door to check and see if the pie might be finished early.
I'm telling you now that this pie didn't hardly have a chance to cool down before I was cutting a slice. I served it with vanilla ice cream and was in total heaven!! It was perfection. The crust was very flaky and the filling was sweet and tart. The vanilla ice cream put this dessert over the edge. I pretty much inhaled the whole piece and was thinking about going back for another piece. Just as I was about to get up, I heard a knock at the door. My husband surprised me by coming home early! Some people just have good timing : )
This is my entry for Tyler Florence Fridays this week. You can check out what the other ladies are making every Friday night by clicking here. This recipe was pretty lengthy, so I chose not to post it. I would be more than happy to share it with you via email if you leave me a note.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

The first time I saw these cookies I knew I had to make them!! I first saw these cookies on Donna's blog, My Tasty Treasures. I wanted to make the cookies right away, but I didn't have any oreos on hand. By the time I went to the grocery store on Saturday, two other bloggers had already made these cookies!! Pam at For the Love of Cooking and Sara of Delectable Dining. I say great minds think alike!!

This is one of those recipe that you just have to try. My daughter had so much fun helping me make these cookies. Her favorite part was smashing the oreos. She really loved the cookies and thinks they are better than "plain old chocolate chip cookies." My husband says he might agree with her on that one. My batch made 26 cookies, but I had a cookie monster in my kitchen that was eating the dough before they could be baked : )

1 stick butter, room temperature
6 Tbsp. white sugar
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/4 cup a/p flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oreo cookies, broken into pieces
1 cup chocolate chips (I used semisweet)

Turn your oven on to 350F. In a mixer or by hand, cream the butter and both sugars. Once mixed, add the egg and vanilla. Mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl and add slowly to the butter/sugar mixture. Once your dough has been mixed, add in your crushed oreos and your chocolate chips. Bake the cookies at 350F between 7 and 9 minutes. I made my cookies about the size of a one heaping tablespoon. I think the recipe was suppose to make 50 cookies, but most people are getting between 26 and 36.

You can also find the recipes on the other blogs listed above. This is a great recipe!! I hope you enjoy it!!

Happy Eating : )

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Caramel-Coated Popovers *Recipe #37 - page 211*

I have been wanting to try these popovers since I first bought the book, Stirring the Pot. I just recently received a popover pan as a gift and was finally able to bake them up today. I am very happy to share them with my friends at Tyler Florence Fridays for our weekly post. Tyler's book says that the popover is the American version of Britain's yorkshire pudding, and I have to agree with that.

Tyler's popovers remind me of a fresh, hot, sugary glazed donut with a hint of egg flavor. I can see why Tyler says they are good with your morning coffee. The popover itself is a texture explosion due to the crisp outside and the soft and fluffy inside. I really enjoyed these, as I enjoy all of Tyler's sweet treats!! In fact, I enjoyed them too much! I have a 15 year high school reunion coming up at the end of the month and should be avoiding all of Tyler's tasty treats : )
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch kosher salt
1 -1/2 cups whole milk, room temp
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 425F. Melt the 2 tbsp. butter and grease 12 popover pans; place pans in the oven to heat while you make the batter. Using the whisk attachment of a kitchen stand mixer, beat flour, salt, milolk, eggs, and remaining butter on high speed for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and shiny. Fill the hot popover pans halfway; bake for 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.
About 15 minutes before popovers are done baking, prepare caramel. Mix sugar and water in a large saucepan and place over high heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until sugar melts and the mixture starts to take on a golden brown color. Remove from heat. Working quickly, use two forks to roll the popovers in the caramel and place on parchment paper to set.

Yesterday was my daughter's last day of school. I ran up to the school early with my 2 year old, Jackson, so that we could watch the class do a skit. My daughter was dismissed early and when it was time to leave we were having a massive thunderstorm. In fact, I'm not sure I've been caught in a thunderstorm like this for years. We knew that we were going to get soaked going out to the car so we decided to have fun with it. I don't remember the last time I danced in the rain, but it was too long ago!!

This is the picture my daughter took of me and Jackson when we came in from the rain. We were so wet there were puddles on the kitchen floor!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tyler's Wonderful *Wheat* Bread and a Motley Crew

The response to Tyler's Wonderful White Bread was overwhelming at my house! My daughter loved it the most and even wanted to learn how to bake it. I decided to try and make the same recipe and sub out 1/3 cup of the regular a/p flour with 1/3 cup whole wheat flour. The results were great, if not better!! The dough with the whole wheat was a much softer dough and was much easier to work with. The color of the dough was beautiful and I loved seeing the little flecks of wheat throughout the dough. The normal white bread recipe bakes for only 30 minutes. My loaf with the whole wheat took much longer to bake. I want to say it actually took about 45 minutes to cook. The result was fabulous!! My husband and daughter loved it and I think it really made them feel like they had a special lunch. I will continue to make this bread once a week or more as a special treat. I big thank you to Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for answering some of my bread baking questions. She is a bread baking goddess!!

On another note, my daughter's field day at school was this past Friday. She's in the second grade and has just turned 8 years old in May. The school went all out for field day and I was really impressed. They had fields and fields of games. They even rented 4 huge inflatables inside in the gym. Outside there was a popcorn stand and a snowcone stand.

I got to work at the snowcone stand. I quickly learned that there are members of the PTA/PTO who take their duties very seriously. Very seriously, please read on! I was in charge of putting check marks on the children's hands once they had received a snowcone. All children were allowed only one snowcone and no one was suppose to have a second. They even went so far as to give me a sharpie permenant marker to mark the children's hands with!!

Well, anyone with kids knows that those children would find a way to get that marker off their hand. While I enjoyed all their ploys for a second snowcone, it was all lost on some of the other mothers. They considered this a serious offense and reprimanded some of the children. I found it sweet and endearing. Some of them, especially the boys, were just downright charming about it. Nonetheless, even without their permenant mark, the snowcone was written all over their face, or their shirt, or on the tongue. There was nothing I could do to help them out!! That's when I laughed to myself about my silly job of marking those poor kids with permenant marker. What need is there to mark them when they are literally wearing snowcone all over their face and clothes?

Later on, I found my daughter inside the gym with her friends. They were standing in line for the inflatables with their shirts all askew, covered with snowcone, barefoot, and practically toothless!! Check out the faces on that motley crew : )

It is obviously not cool when you are eight years old and your mom wants to take your picture!!
This picture reminds me of that line you hear all the time as a young parent......."you better watch out, they grow up overnight."

My daughter, Olivia, is pictured on the far right.