Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween & Spooky Treats

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween. We started our morning with a spooky treat courtesy of Nigella. For breakfast we had Nigella's Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundaes. We rimmed our sundae glasses with orange sprinkles and filled them with ice cream. We topped them with Nigella's chocolate peanut butter fudge sauce, Halloween sprinkles, and scary monsters! I don't think I need to tell you that Nigella's chocolate peanut butter fudge sauce was delicious. How could it not be? It consisted of heavy cream, milk chocolate, smooth peanut butter, and corn syrup - yum!! If you like a decadent ice cream sauce, this is the one! This week's theme over at I Heart Cooking Clubs is spooky treats and spirits. Go check out all the other spooky posts!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae - Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup or light corn syrup

Cook all ingredients on low heat until melted and glossy.

Earlier in the week we made Paula Deen's snake bites, recipe found here. This is a great Halloween treat, but can be made anytime of year. I am submitting this to Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays.

The snake bites are made with canned crescent dough that is flattened out and filled with sandwich fillings. Paula's recipe calls for ham, salami, bologna, Monterey jack cheese, and mustard. The crescent roll is rolled up into the shape of a snake, coated with egg yolk, and painted with food color to resemble a snake. Paula uses pimento-stuffed olives for the eyes, cloves for the nose, and a red pepper for the tongue.

I improvised and used black olives for the eyes, capers for the nose, and red pepper for the tongue. I filled my snakes with pizza sauce, fresh mozzerella, and pepperoni. I made another snake with pesto sauce and fresh mozzarella. The pizza themed snakes were tasty, but the filling was too much and spilled out the sides. I think you need to have a light hand with the filling. Other than that, they are really cute treats that make everyone happy. You can customize them adding any ingredient you like. Each snake makes about 8 little sandwiches.

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies Week #5: Chambord Crisps

These cookies caught my attention when I first saw them over at Every Last Cookie. I was intrigued by the use of Chambord or Cassis to make a cookie and knew immediately that I would have to try these. This is a Martha Stewart recipe that originally called for Creme de cassis. Lizzie over at Every Last Cookie substituted Chambord, and so did I. You can find the recipe here on Lizzie's blog. You should definitely check out her blog, if you haven't already. She is baking her way through Martha Stewart's new cookie book.

Notes/Results: This is easily one of the most unique cookies I have ever made. It has a biscuit-like texture, with a mild fruity taste, and is topped off perfectly with sanding sugar. They are somewhat addictive. The only downside is that the dough needs to chill for at least one hour. After chilling, the dough needs to be rolled out and cut into 3" squares. I didn't have an easy time with the dough, but the cookies turned out just fine. I think the dough needs to chill longer than one hour. I liked this cookie, but they are a little more work than what I usually do for a cookie. I'd like to think I would make them again, especially for a party or a group of adults. They are really tasty!

Head on over to see what these fellow cookie monsters baked up this week!
Megan of My Baking Adventures
Barbara of Barbara Bakes
April of Abby Sweets
Megan of Megan's Cookin
Denise of Keeper Worthy Recipes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Farewell to Tyler Florence Fridays: Baked Breakfast Apples with French Toast Crust - Recipe #46 Stirring the Pot

This is the last week for Tyler Florence Fridays, a cooking group that I will surely miss. Tyler Florence Fridays was the first cooking group that I joined and I enjoyed every minute of it. Along the way, I have met the kindest bloggers who I would consider great friends. I want to say a special thank you to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, and Megan of My Baking Adventures. You all are to thank for starting and heading up such a wonderful group! Fridays will never be the same.

In the spirit of Tyler Florence Fridays, I am going to continue to post my weekly Tyler recipe on Fridays. I have at least forty-two recipes left in Stirring the Pot, so I have quite a few more Tyler recipes to share!

For the last week of TFF, I chose to make Baked Breakfast Apples with French Toast Crust. I have seen this made several times by other group members and it always gets great reviews. Armed with apples from a recent trip to the orchard I set out to try this recipe. It was very, very easy to put together.

Baked Breakfast Apples with French Toast Crust -adapted from Stirring the Pot by Tyler Florence
French Toast
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
1/2 of a 12-14 oz loaf challah, cut into 1-inch thick slices

1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons roughly chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, and cored

To prepare the french toast, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a shallow bowl, whisk until well combined. Lay challah slices in egg mixture to coat, turning slices occasionally to allow bread to absorb all of the liquid.

For the filling, place a 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add butter and brown sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden and caramelized. Remove from heat. Sprinkle in the cranberries, pecans, and cinnamon. Gently press apple halves into the caramel so they are "standing" and line up one behind another so there is a flat surface on top (you may need to cut some of the halves to fill in the gaps).

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the soaked slices of challah over apples so they are completely covered. Bake in the middle of the oven for 55 50 60 minutes, until the top is golden and puffy and the apples are knife-tender. Cool slightly. Place a large platter over the top of the skillet. Being very careful, turn the skillet and the platter together, so the skillet is on top and the whole french toast dish comes out on the platter. Remove the skillet. Serve warm.

Notes/Results: This recipe is easy to throw together and is a great way to serve breakfast/brunch without a lot of fuss. It smells wonderful baking in the oven! Six medium-sized apples filled my 10" cast iron skillet perfectly. I can never find challah or brioche locally, so I subbed a thick sliced whole wheat bread (I'm trying to lighten things up anyway). It is only fair to say that I don't LOVE cooked apples. That being said, I liked this dish, but probably would not make it again. I think if baked apples are your thing, then this is definitely a recipe worth trying out. I liked the crispiness of the crusty toast when it was first out of the oven. The pecans and cranberries are a great addition. This is great served on it's own, as dessert with a scoop of vanilla, or with a whipped or poured cream over the top.

Head on over to Tyler Florence Fridays to check out our last roundup and don't forget to check out I Heart Cooking Clubs, the sister club to Tyler Florence Fridays. Right now we are cooking Nigella Lawson's recipes and having lots of fun each week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cook Yourself Thin Cookbook Review: Mini Turkey Meatloaves with Roasted Root Veggies

In an effort to start eating lighter and healthier, I bought the new cookbook Cook Yourself Thin. I kept hearing good things about this book and it was only about fourteen dollars, so I decided to give it a shot. The book's recipes are prefaced by information on eating lighter, eating habits, calorie contents and other "dieting" information. This portion is good for someone who wants/needs to educate themselves on eating lighter. It is good at helping you uncover your eating habits, both good and bad.

The recipes are broken down into three categories: Breakfasts, Mains, and Sweets. There are many beautifully plated pictures in this book, but not of every recipe. I was impressed that the recipes actually included whole foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean meats) in lieu of non-fat, no-fat, sugar-free nonsense. The only substitutions you will see in this book are for low-fat cheeses, which is perfectly fine with me.

I bookmarked over twenty-five recipes to try and decided to start with these mini turkey meatloaves with roasted veggies. My husband and I love meatloaf, so I doubled the recipe. I was lucky enough to have found ground turkey breast on sale for $1.99/lb, so it was also very economical. Let me go ahead and say that this recipe blew me away! It was so good, especially considering the calorie content. I would eat this meal any day of the week, whether or not I was watching the waistline. This is definitely a five-star recipe, especially if you love meat and potatoes.

Turkey Mini-Meatloaves with Roasted Root Veggies -adapted from Cook Yourself Thin
Serves 4, but can easily be doubled
Calories per serving- meatloaves - 227
Calories per serving - roasted root veggies - 121

For the meatloaf:
1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
5-ounce bag baby spinach leaves *don't omit - this is what keeps the turkey moist*
1-1/4 pounds ground turkey *I used ground turkey breast with awesome results*
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (omitted due to picky hubby)
Note: I added a couple cloves of sauteed garlic

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce

For the roasted root veggies:
3 large carrots, cut on the bias
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut on the bias
1/4 cup asparagus (about 4 stalks) * I subbed out sugar snap peas (picky hubby again)*
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange oven racks to accommodate two dishes being cooked simultaneously. Grind the bread in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl, and pour milk over crumbs. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet, preferable nonstick, over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Add spinach, and stir until just wilted about 30 seconds(This is where I added in my garlic and sauteed briefly). Transfer to bowl with soaked crumbs. Add the turkey, cheese, egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Combine the mixture with your hands until well mixed; it will be quite wet. (It was quite wet, but turned out just fine).

Pack 1 cup of the mixture into a 1-cup dry measuring cup, invert the cup onto a rimmed baking sheet, gently shaking the cup to release the mixture. Gently pat the moundn to smooth its shape. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake mini meatloaves until cooked through and golden, about 40 minutes
Note: If you are not opposed to foil, you may want to line your baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup. My baking sheets were very hard to clean after this recipe.

While the meatloaves are cooking, make the glaze: in a small bowl combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Brush over meatloaves as soon as complete.

To makes the roasted root vegetables: On a baking sheet, toss all the veggies in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Add to the oven along with the meatloaf and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring midway through baking. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Notes/Results: I was extremely happy with this recipe. The only complaint I have about the book is that I wish it listed all the nutritional information for each recipe. Instead, it only lists the calorie contents. It would be nice to have protein and carb counts. At any rate, I highly recommend this recipe. The glaze for the meatloaf is zippy, tangy and slightly spicy and pairs great with the meatloaf and the veggies. I was a little worried about roasting sugar snap peas, but they turned out fine. This is very pretty on the plate and I felt great about eating it, especially since the whole meal was less than 400 calories. Since I doubled the recipe, I took some to my mom and she loved it. She was even more surprised to find it was so low in calories. I plated up the rest to have as leftovers and they were gobbled up in no time. Don't be afraid to use ground turkey breast instead of plain ground turkey, the end result was excellent and probably even lower in calories!! Can you tell I'm excited?? I can't wait to cook up the next recipe.

Stay tuned for more recipes from Cooking Yourself Thin. Next up will be Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (200 calories each) and Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas (456 calories for 3 enchiladas)!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hot Chicken Salad and Nutter Butter Ghosts

This summer I joined up with the My Girl Paula cooking group and have cooked and indulged in at least 16 Paula Deen recipes. Sadly, those 16 recipes have stuck with me, if you know what I mean. We all know that Paula's recipes are not kind to the waistline. It is for this reason that this will be my last post with the My Girl Paula group. I will still be following along and may cook up an occasional Paula treat, but the main focus is going to be on cooking lighter (with a few exceptions, of course).

This week at My Girl Paula there was no chosen recipe. We were able to choose any recipe we wanted. I chose to go with Paula's recipe for Hot Chicken Salad, which allowed me to finish cleaning out my refrigerator. I remembered making this recipe several years ago and having mixed feelings about it. Back then I used sauteed and cubed up chicken and this time I used leftover rotisserie chicken. After trying the version made with rotisserie chicken I can easily say that this is the only way you should make this recipe. The texture was just so much better and this recipe was delicious! We really liked it, and I will definitely be making it again.....someday. If you really want to indulge, this is a quick, comforting and very tasty recipe packed with crunchy and creamy goodness.

Hot Chicken Salad - adapted from Paula Deen & Friends by Paula Deen
2 cups cooked chicken breast meat, cubed (use rotisserie chicken, if possible)
1-1/2 cups diced celery (my hubby doesn't like celery, so I added peas)
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (do not skip this,, it was my favorite part of the recipe)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2/3 cup crushed potato chips
Note: We love garlic, so I added 1 big clove of garlic
Note: I baked mine in an 8x8 baking pan

Preheat the oven to 375F. Paula says to spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil, but I don't really think you need to. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, celery (or peas), almonds, salt, onion, pepper, lemon juice, mayo, and cheese. Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spread the crushed potato chips on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

This would be great dish to take along to a party, serve to children, or as part of a family dinner!!

For dessert, I made these cute little nutter butter ghosts. While shopping through the Fresh Market one day, I noticed a package of these little guys and thought they were really cute. Rather than pay $4.95 for about 4 or 5 of them, I decided to try them myself. I didn't really use a recipe. I just melted some white chocolate in a double boiler, dipped the nutter butters in the white chocolate, and then made some ghost eyes using Nutella.

They turned out pretty good, but I did notice a couple of things along the way. Coating just one nutter butter used a lot of white chocolate. In fact, it was probably cheaper to buy them at Fresh Market. My white chocolate mixture was pretty thick and probably needed to be thinned out somehow. Also, the Nutella wasn't the easiest thing to pipe out into eyeballs. In hindsight, I wish I had used mini chocolate chips and a little pair of tweezers. I think that would've been a little easier. I originally wanted to insert the nutter butter onto a popsicle stick and make them into lollipops/suckers. However, the popsicle stick was too wide and just made the cookie fall apart. You could probably use a wooden skewer, but it wouldn't be as easy to hold. They tasted pretty good and the kids loved them. I will probably make them again next year, with a few adjustments. I definitely welcome any suggestions you all might have for improving these little guys.

Happy Monday!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Heart Cooking Clubs: Maple Ribs

This has been a busy week and I have been a real slacker in the kitchen. I was busy getting ready for our eighties themed party today at Lush. We were celebrating our one year anniversary and were lucky enough to have a DJ. The party was so much fun. We "walked like Egyptians", danced to "Walk This Way" by RUN DMC, rocked out to "I love rock and roll", and laughed hysterically when the theme song for Miami Vice started playing. It was a real blast from the past!!

There are a few requirements when dressing like the eighties. First and foremost, you must have leg warmers (neon pink if at all possible). Secondly, it is of the utmost importance to have the correct shade of blue eyeshadow. If you discover that you don't have the correct shade of blue eyeshadow, you must go to Walmart at midnight to rectify this situation! Of course, neon pink fishnet gloves are a must have and so are those completely obnoxious neon pink earrings. Lots of bangles are a must, and so are those jelly bracelets. And, last but not least, before you leave the must have at least one shoulder exposed and you better have BIG hair :D

Since it isn't the eighties anymore, be prepared to be gawked at by lots of folks who think you've absolutely lost your mind! It helps if you are already in a goofy mood like the person below in this photo.

Could those earrings be any bigger? Better yet, what am I doing in this picture?

I might be sorry I posted this, so let's move onto the food!

These maple ribs were a real easy recipe to prepare and we loved them! The recipe is supposed to be for ribs and chicken, but I didn't have bone-in, skin-on chicken so I didn't include it.

Maple Ribs - Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
12 pork spareribs (I used one rack of baby back ribs)
12 chicken thighs, skin and bone still on
1 cup apple juice, as sharp as possible
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 star anise (I didn't include this)
1 cinnamon stick, halved (I didn't include this, hubby doesn't like cinnamon with meat)
6 unpeeled cloves garlic

Put the ribs and chicken pieces in a couple of large freezer bags or into a dish. Add all the remaining ingredients, squelching or tossing everything together well before sealing the bags or covering the dish. Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight or up to two days. Take the dish out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 400F. Pour the contents of the freezer bag into 1 or 2 roasting pans (making sure chicken is skin side up), place in the preheated oven, and cook for about 1-1/4 hours, by which time everything should be sticky and glossed chestnut brown.

Notes/Results: Absolutely delicious and a real keeper of a recipe. Nigella's version of ribs are much easier than my tried and true method. This will be my new go to recipe for ribs. They are sweet and sticky from the maple and the soy sauce adds an Asian flair. I marinated the ribs for 48 hours and they were fall off the bone tender. I think you might even be able to make the marinade in the roasting pan for easier clean up. Next time, I will be sure to include the chicken with the ribs. This maple flavorings make this a perfect crowd-pleaser or potluck dish for this time of year. Another winner by Nigella. I am liking her more and more every week!

Head on over to I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what everyone else cooked up this week. The theme was potluck, so there is sure to be something for everyone!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies Week #4: Brickle Cookies

It's week four of Christmas cookies, which means only eight more weeks until Christmas! Normally, it's too warm to start thinking about Christmas. This year it has already dipped below freezing, which is unheard of here in Kentucky. The cold weather has driven folks into the shops and caused some early Christmas shopping here in the Bluegrass.

I haven't done very much cooking or baking at all this week. I guess you could say that I fell down on the job. And, when it comes to these brickle cookies I was a total slacker! I don't even have a recipe to share.

I happened to be at Wal-mart (my least favorite store on the planet) and came across Nestle's bits o' brickle. They caught my attention and I bought a bag. I didn't have any plans for the bits o' brickle, I just thought they were cool. Fast forward a couple of days and now I need a cookie for the week. Since I'm such a gourmet, I decided to make the recipe on the back of the bag. Yes, I know. How very "original" of me! I believe the recipe was for "drop brickle cookies". The best part is that I threw the bag away and didn't keep the recipe to share! In the end, it might not really matter because I didn't like these cookies at all. I made about eight of them and then pitched the rest of the cookie dough. They turned out very crispy and neither me nor my family like crispy cookies. They weren't terrible, but they weren't worth the calories. On the other hand, if you happen to like crispy, buttery-flavored cookies, that hurt your teeth, then this might be the one for you!

Next week I'm hoping to make Chambord Crisps. While they are void of chocolate, they will have Chambord in them, so I'm hoping that they turn out yummy! Who can pass up a cookie with alcohol in it, especially at Christmas.

Head on over to see what these fellow cookie monsters baked up this week!
Megan of My Baking Adventures
Barbara of Barbara Bakes
April of Abby Sweets
Megan of Megan's Cookin
Denise of Keeper Worthy Recipes

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lemon and Basil Eggs over Focaccia

This is a fun breakfast or brunch recipe, courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis. I loved this recipe the moment I first saw it on her show and I have made it several times since then. You can customize it to your liking, using whatever bread and herbs you have on hand.

The idea is to hollow out a loaf of bread. This "hollowed out" bread is cut or torn into cubes and used at a later time. An egg mixture is then poured into the cavity of the bread. The "extra" bread then gets cubed up and added back on top of the egg mixture and baked. The end result is a crispy outer coating on the bread and a creamy interior. We enjoyed this with some fresh fruit. You can find the recipe here.

I have received two awards recently. Thank you to both Dorothy of Fuzzykoala's Caketastic Adventures and Chaya at Sweet and Savory Says It All!! I am so happy you thought of me!

A lovely blog award from Dorothy at Fuzzykoala's Caketastic Adventures. Do yourself a favor and head on over to see her creations. They are both creative and delicious!!
And, also a Neno Award from Chaya of Sweet and Savory Says It All. Chaya is cooking and baking up a storm lately, head on over there to see all of her latest creations.

Thanks so much to Dorothy and Chaya for the awards. They mean a lot to me!!

I want to pass both of these awards on to one special blogger, Michelle of Ms. enPlace. I absolutely LOVE her blog!! Michelle posts some great Creole, Cajun, and Southern American dishes from her Louisiana kitchen. Michelle has a wonderful post up right now about her weekend at the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles 2009. Her posts are so witty and fun. Head on over there to check out all the good eats and good music!! I guarantee that you will want to be a follower of her awesome blog!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Cake Slice Bakers Present: Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

This is my first cake for the Cake Slice Bakers. We are currently baking from a new book, Southern Cakes, by Nancie McDermott. There are so many great cakes in this book, and I'm excited to try my hand at some of them. This was my first coffee cake ever and it was delicious.
The recipe calls for raisins, but I omitted them. I love raisins in cookies, but not cakes. Overall, I thought this was a wonderful recipe for coffee cake. The cake was moist and the recipe produced a lot of yummy crumb topping. I did have a little trouble spreading the second layer of cake batter over the filling, but it worked out great in the end. I halved the recipe, successfully, and ended up with about 9 large pieces of cake. My husband was out of town, so I shared the cake with my mom. My mom loved it and took some to work, where it received rave reviews. If I was going to make a coffee cake, this would be one I would go back to. I might even add in some chocolate chips next time. You can never go wrong with chocolate :D

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake - adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

For the Cinnamon Raisin Filling:

  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1½ cups raisins
  • 1½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 9 inch pan.

To make the filling, combine the light brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and stir with a fork to mix everything well. Combine the raisins and pecans in another bowl and toss to mix them. Place the cinnamon mixture, nut mixture and melted butter by the baking pan to use later.

To make the cake batter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir the vanilla into the milk. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat with a mixer on high speed until pale yellow and evenly mixed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl to ensure a good mix. Add the eggs and beat for another 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl now and then, until the mixture is smooth and light.

Use a large spoon or spatula to add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir only until the flour disappears. Add a third of the milk and mix in. Repeat twice more until all the flour and milk mixtures have been incorporated. Stir just enough to keep the batter smooth.

Spread half the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture over the batter followed by half the melted butter. Scatter half the raisins and nuts over the top. Spread the remaining batter carefully over the filling, using a spatula to smooth the batter all the way to the edges of the pan. Top with the leftover cinnamon, butter and nut mixture, covering the cake evenly.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, fragrant and beginning to pull away from the edges of the pan. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before serving in squares right from the pan. The cake is delicious hot, warm or at room temperature.

Stay tuned for next month's recipe, it sounds perfect for this time of year !!

Slow-Braised Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce and Egg Noodles - Recipe #45 Stirring the Pot

When I heard that Joanne of Eats Well With Others was hosting Regional Recipes this month, I knew I wanted to participate. Joanne is not only a great blogging friend, but a very dedicated and inspiring young lady. In fact, she just ran a marathon! I figured that if Joanne could run a marathon, then I could get my act together to make this recipe for Regional Recipes.

This month, Regional Recipes is focusing on Scandinavian cuisine. This Scandinavian theme was perfect for me because I had been wanting to make this recipe, Tyler's version of Swedish meatballs. This is how Tyler describes these meatballs:

"These aren't your typical goodfella's meatballs. You can look to Sweden for the inspiration here with the sweet cranberry sauce serving as a substitute for the traditional lingonberries."

Tyler's recipe is in Stirring the Pot, but you can also find it here on the food network.

Notes/Results: This was a pretty cumbersome dish to make and involved many dirty pots and pans! Over at Tyler Florence Fridays, Tyler is famous for yielding many dirty dishes :D We still love him though. Tyler directs you to brown the meatballs on the stove top first in a large roasting pan. Well, I didn't have a roasting pan large enough for 3 pounds of meatballs and oodles of braising liquid. I had to cook everything in batches. Then I had to transfer to another roasting pan in order to put it into the oven. Maybe I wasn't with the program yesterday, but there has to be an easier way. Overall, we liked this dish. It was an extremely savory dish and fairly mild in flavor, even with the addition of the cranberry sauce. The meatballs had a soft and delicate texture due to being braised in the cooking liquid. My husband doesn't care much for a "soft" meatball, but he did like these. The soft texture of these meatballs didn't bother me at all. I quite liked them. I enjoyed dunking my meatballs into the cranberry sauce. The cranberry sauce was a beautiful red color and really helped bring the meatballs up another notch. This was a stunning dish when it was plated with the saucy meatballs, red cranberry sauce, and pretty green dill sprinkled around the plate. It would be great at the holidays!! A very tasty dish indeed, especially if you can get around all those dirty dishes :D

I will also be submitting this to Tyler Florence Fridays this week! Don't forget to head on over to TFF this weekend to see what everyone else is cooked up throughout the week. There are still two weeks left to participate with TFF!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crispy Rice Pumpkin Patch Treats for My Girl Paula

This week's My Girl Paula recipe are these cute and kid-friendly crispy rice candy corn treats. A perfect sweet treat for the whole family, with a cute little Halloween twist! Paula's recipe called for candy corn, but my daughter isn't crazy about candy corn. I decided to use the little pumpkins instead, leaving them whole. Never again will rice crispies be plain. The recipe is really easy and makes a 9x13" pan full of rice crispy treats to hand out to all the kids in the neighborhood. Perfect to take along to a Monday night girl scout meeting!

We took my in-law's to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch yesterday and it was a fabulous time. Despite the unseasonably cold weather, it had finally quit raining long enough to enjoy some time outdoors. Kentucky is home to a lot of tobacco farms and it is no secret that the tobacco farmers are having a hard time right now. We are so happy to have Evans Orchard here in Georgetown. The Evans family used to be tobacco farmers, but were able to convert their farm to a apple orchard, cider mill, and pumpkin patch. It is a huge attraction each fall and this year they offered a season pass for families. Since we live so close, we took advantage of the season's pass this year and have probably been at least eight times already. I thought I would share some pictures that we took this season.
Queen of the Straw Castle

My husband, Tony, and two kids in the rat racers.
I hope you all have the chance to get outdoors and enjoy the fall season!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies-Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies Week #3

Eating this cookie is a beautiful experience! (Please double click on the picture to fully understand) If you love chocolate, then you don't want to miss out on this one - you will not be disappointed with this cookie. I have recently joined up with some great ladies who are making one cookie or bar cookie per week until Christmas, hence the title 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies. I joined up a couple weeks into it, so this is week number three. This means nine more weeks of cookies. Sounds delicious, doesn't it?

I think this is a great opportunity to try some new cookie recipes and decide what to add to your Christmas cookie platter. These chocolate chocolate chip cookies will definitely be on my Christmas cookie platter. In fact, I made six cookies only, and I am freezing the rest of the dough and saving it to bake at Christmas.

I have been cooking a lot of Nigella recipes from Nigella Express and I have really loved them all. I wanted to try one of her cookie recipes and am pleased to say that this cookie recipe is my favorite recipe in the book so far. This recipe starts with melted chocolate, then adds cocoa and 2 cups of chocolate chips. These are a delicious chocolaty, sweet and salty cookie that is out of this world delicious, especially right out of the oven!

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies - Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
4 oz semisweet chocolate (I used milk chocolate here)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick soft butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg, cold from the fridge
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F. Melt the 4 oz. of chocolate. Measure the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Cream the butter and two sugars in another bowl. I use my freestanding mixer, itself a source of comfort to me. Add the melted chocolate and mix together. Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir in the chocolate chips. Scoot out 1/4 cup-sized mounds - an ice cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job - and place on a lined baking sheet about 2-1/2 inches apart. Do not flatten them. Leave to cool on the bakign sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool. Makes 12 big cookies.

Notes/Results: There were a lot of different things about making this cookie dough. First I noticed that Nigella called for a cold egg. I'm not sure why (maybe someone can share) a cold egg, but it worked out great. This baffled me because I was taught to always bake with room temp ingredients. Also, there is only 1 cup of flour in this cookie recipe. This caught my attention and I immediately knew it was going to be a fudgey-type of cookie - yum! This cookie is absolutely divine right out of the oven. It is chocolaty, sweet, and a tad on the salty side. It is easily one of the best cookies I have ever ate. I also recommend following Nigella's directions and making the cookies the 1/4 cup size. This leads to crispy edges and chewy and ooey gooey insides and makes for a very happy cookie monster!! I highly recommend this cookie. Thanks Nigella!!

Click on any of the blogs below to see what all the other cookie monsters made this week!
Megan of My Baking Adventures
Barbara of Barbara Bakes
April of Abby Sweets
Megan of Megan's Cookin
Denise of Keeper Worthy Recipes

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shrimp Scampi with Linguine - Recipe #44 Stirring the Pot

I'm excited to say that I am now halfway through Stirring the Pot! There are 88 main recipes in the book and this Shrimp Scampi is recipe number forty-four. I started this adventure back in January of this year. I had just received Tyler's new cookbooks, Stirring the Pot and Dinner at My Place in the mail. I really liked both books, but Stirring the Pot featured recipes I hadn't tried before. On a whim, I decided to cook my way through it.

I am so happy I decided to start this blog. It is so refreshing to meet people who share the same deep passion for food and cooking. And, along the way I have met some great friends. Blogging is something that I will continue to do well after I'm through cooking through Tyler's book. A big thanks to everyone who has been following me along on my adventure! I appreciate all the feedback and kind words.

Cooking my way through Tyler's Stirring the Pot has been a learning experience. For example, I had never successfully baked any yeast bread prior to this book. I had to face my fears with yeast and was successful with Tyler's parker house rolls. Now I love baking with yeast and I'm no longer scared of it. Along the way, I've tried some dishes that I thought I wouldn't like and found out that I loved them. All in all, I have learned a lot and I am only halfway through. The next half is going to be even more of a learning experience as I move on to some of the dishes that are a little more unique to me.

In no certain order, here is a list of my top ten favorite recipes so far. These are the recipes I feel were outstanding and also that I have made over and over again in my kitchen. You can click on each recipe to view the post and my review, if interested.
Perfect Roast Chicken
Chicken with Mushrooms and Marsala
Chicken with Orange, Olives, and New Potatoes
Ultimate Onion Rings
Rosemary-Garlic Mozzarella Balls with Roasted Cherry Tomato Dipping Sauce
Lamb T-Bones with Smashed Potatoes and Peas
Grilled Flatbread with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola, Mascarpone, and Crunchy Red Grapes Grilled Brie and Tomato on Crusty Bread
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Parker House Rolls

*With Honorable Mention to:
Berry-Brioche Bread Pudding with Lemon Fondant
Crispy Asian Chicken Salad
Arugula, Fennel and Grape Salad
Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas and Cashew Butter

Overall, I have enjoyed forty-two of the forty-four recipes I've tried. The only exceptions have been Tyler's California Bacon and Eggs and also his Lamb Shank Stew with Russet Potato Top.

I have also noticed that Tyler's recipes for baked goods are excellent. In fact, his Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookie may just be my all time favorite recipe of his. Although they are not in Stirring the Pot, they are online at the Food Network. They are one serious chocolate chip cookie and I think I've made them a dozen times this year.

Notes on the Shrimp Scampi: I needed a quick recipe this week and decided to use up some rock shrimp I had bought at the grocery. My husband doesn't eat shrimp, so I made this for me and my mom today. It was another good recipe and my mom enjoyed it a lot. I am not a lover of shrimp, but I do like it. For me, the best part was the sauce. It was sweet, zesty, and a little spicy. I would make the recipe for sauce again. My mom, shrimp lover that she is, said that I could make it again anytime. She really liked it!! This recipe has received a five star review on the food network, so it is worth checking out! You can find the recipe here. I wish my pictures of this recipe had turned out better. I made this right before I headed out to work and was running out of time. I snapped some pictures real quick and ran out the door. After all, Kentuckians needs their bath bombs, bubble bars, and special potions :D

This is my submission for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays. Tyler Florence Fridays is so much fun. All the Tyler recipes are posted on Fridays and everyone always makes something different. Head on over there this Friday to see all the recipes and reviews.

I Heart Cooking Clubs: Sesame Peanut Noodles

The theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs is Midnight Sneaks. Since I am a night owl and a professional midnight snacker, I am very qualified in this department. At my house, a midnight sneak or snack could literally be anything. Sometimes it's a quick piece of cheese, a couple pretzels or crackers, and even sometimes a full-blown meal. The midnight sneak is especially hearty if I have just arrived home from work at ten or eleven at night. I chose Nigella's Sesame Peanut Noodles because I knew they would be delicious. I loved the idea of making a large batch of noodles that could be eaten hot or cold. Since pasta is my favorite, I knew I would get a midnight craving for these, and I was right. These sesame peanut noodles were really tasty, and got better the longer they sat in the refrigerator. A delicious midnight sneak!
Sesame Peanut Noodles - Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon garlic-infused oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chile sauce (I used garlic-chili paste, which is some pretty spicy stuff)
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (I used a scant 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons lime juice (I did not include this because I didn't have any on hand)

For the salad:
1-1/4 lbs cooked egg noodles (I used one pound of spaghetti)
2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed (didn't have any - left out)
1-1/2 cups snow peas
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into small strips
2 scallions, finely sliced (didn't have any - left out)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (didn't have any - left out)

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl or small pitcher. Put the noodles, bean sprouts, snow peas, sliced red pepper, and sliced scallions into a bowl. Pour over the dressing and mix thoroughly to coat everything well. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and cilantro and pack up as needed.

Serves 8

Notes/Results: These noodles were really tasty and I will make them again. Next time, I will be sure to pick up the scallions and fresh cilantro as I love both of those and think they would've made the final result even more delicious. These noodles were better the next day and I imagine will be better even today. I only used one pound of pasta and feel like 1-1/4 pounds of pasta would be too much pasta for the amount of sauce. In fact, the noodles could probably have more sauce. I topped mine off with a couple shakes of soy sauce when serving. I also had both regular sesame seeds and black sesame seeds which I garnished with. I wasn't sure what sweet chile sauce was, so I used my garlic-chili paste which is really hot, especially when you add two tablespoons of it. It turned out okay, because both hubby and myself love spicy foods. You could really add all kinds of vegetables. I also added some shredded chicken, which was delicious. A great midnight sneak!!

It's not to late to create your own midnight sneak! Head on over to I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what others were sneaking in the middle of the night !

Also, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen is having an awesome giveaway! Click here to check out her review of John Besh's new cookbook, My New Orleans. Deb has made seven wonderful recipes and given the cookbook rave reviews. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a wonderful cookbook!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicken Scarpariello

While reading through my Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook, I noticed that this chicken was hailed as the "top-selling" chicken dish. There was no picture and the recipe doesn't boast many ingredients, but it still caught my attention. After all, I have loved all the recipes from my Carmine's book. My picture didn't turn out too well, and the dish doesn't have a lot of color, but this chicken was fabulous, a real family pleaser. We served it over some great pasta called Trofie, that I bought at a specialty shop. Isn't it cool looking? I had a feeling this chicken was going to be delicious and I wanted to serve it with a special treat.
Chicken Scarpariello - adapted from Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook
One 3-1/2 pound chicken, cut into 12 pieces *I used 3 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
freshly ground black pepper
3 lemons
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic - 4 tablespoons of garlic is a ton, but very delicious
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup dry white wine
lemon wedges, for garnish

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Add the salt, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary, 1 teaspoon of the oregano, 1 teaspoon of the sage, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Squeeze the juice of the lemons over the chicken, toss it well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the chicken at least 24 hours.

After chicken has marinated and you are ready to cook, heat oven to 400F. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the marinade.

In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot and starting to smoke, add the chicken pieces. Cook the chicken, without moving it for 5 minutes or until it is golden brown. Turn it over and cook the other side, without moving it, for 5 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, or until it is all evenly browned.

Using tongs, transfer chicken to a shallow roasting pan. Bake the chicken for 12-15 minutes or until it is cooked through. Meanwhile, discard any oil in the saute pan and wipe it clean with paper towels.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in the saute pan over medium heat. When it is melted, add the garlic, shallots, and remaning rosemary, oregano, and sage. Cook the mixture, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until the garlic and shallots start to brown.

Increase the heat and add the wine, stirring the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes or until most of the wine has evaporated.

Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon into the sauce. It will not thicken.

Transfer the chicken to the saute pan and mix the sauce and chicken well.

Place the chicken on a large platter, pour the sauce over it, and serve it garnished with lemon wedges.

Notes/Results: This chicken is a zesty delight! I think I inhaled mine and would've ate more, if there had been more to go around. The best part is that you can probably create this dish with your normal pantry ingredients on hand. I didn't use a whole chicken like the recipe called for. I used 3 chicken breasts and adjusted my cooking times down. I cooked the breasts on each side about 4 minutes per side and then about 10 minutes or less in the oven. The four tablespoons of chopped garlic is perfect. If you make this recipe, be sure to measure your garlic! You will not want to miss having all that yummy garlic and four tablespoons really is a lot. Definitely the perfect dish for this Halloween season, especially if you're trying to ward off vampires!! I loved how tender this chicken was. Mine was able to marinate for about 36 hours and it was so tender. I happened to have all the fresh herbs on hand, but most of the time I don't. I don't see why you couldn't use dried herbs, but I would reduce the amount since dried herbs are more potent. A fabulous and zesty family chicken dish that is great to serve with pasta. I will be making this again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mini Mummies *A Halloween Treat* for My Girl Paula

This month for My Girl Paula, we are going to be making some of Paula's Halloween treats. This week's choice was Mini Mummies, a hot dog wrapped in pie dough (or crescent dough, in my case). The kids really like them and they can pretty much wrap them and cook them all on their own. My eight year old daughter had a blast wrapping up these hot dogs. You can find the recipe here.

We served these little Greenie Meanies on the side, which turned out pretty cute. They are made pretty easily using two slices of green apple, peanut butter, and sliced almonds. You can cut various scary teeth patterns into the apple slices to create your own look. My creativity is limited, so I did a simple design. They turned out good, and reminded me of how good apples are with peanut butter- yum :D
Later on, we decorated our Halloween tree. I had an old green ficus tree laying around the house. Apparently, in addition to bouncing off the walls, kids also enjoy tearing apart plastic trees. My poor green tree had seen it's last life and it was time to do something with it. I decided to spray paint it black, decorate it with garland, and hang ornaments on it. The whole craft was a "learning experience", but I think it turned out cute and hopefully we can have it for the next couple years. Surprisingly, none of the kids are messing with the Halloween Tree. Apparently plastic green trees are much more fun to tear apart than a Halloween Tree!!?? Sometimes kids just don't make any sense, do they?
I won this award from Kathy of Three on Food. Thank you Kathy! I love your blog too! In fact, I am really enjoying everyone's blog lately. I'd like to share this award with everyone :D Sometimes it is to hard to pick just two people to pass it on to!

The rules of this award are to answer the questions with one word answers. I'm going to try...well, maybe not. I can never stop's a real issue of mine.

Where is your cell phone? hopefully far away - I don't like the thing.
Your hair? needs cutting
Your mother? best friend
Your father? my hero
Your favorite food? pasta & chocolate
Your dream last night? moved to Colorado and got a job in an office
Your Favorite Drink? Iced Tea
Your dream/goal? A huge trip around the world
What room are you in? living room
Your hobby? Cooking and blogging
Your fear? Bugs
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Yikes....I'll be 40!! I can't think that far ahead.
Where were you last night? apple orchard and pumpkin patch
Something you aren't? Organized
Muffins? sometimes
Wish list item? great pair of black boots
Where did you grow up? Ohio *the heart of it all*
Last thing you did? made sesame noodles
What are you wearing? yoga pants and t-shirt
Your TV? is not on
Your pets? two children are enough to take care of, right?
Your friends? like sisters to me
Your life? ls a good mix of chaotic and relaxing
Your mood? happy
Missing someone? My dad and friends who live in Ohio
Vehicle? Chrysler Pacifica
Something you're not wearing? Bra -can't stand those things!
Your favorite store? Are you kidding me? All of them!
Your favorite color? right now it is anything pumpkin colored
When was the last time you laughed? just a minute ago
Last time you cried? not sure
Your best friend? I have known them since I was 5.
One place that I go over and over? the laundry room :D
One person who emails me regularly? Amazon
Favorite place to eat? San Francisco, Las Vegas, any major city

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

When I visit Ohio, my girlfriends and I love going to Clementine's, a Victorian restaurant and tea room. We go there every time we have a chance. Clementine's has wonderful soups, salads, sandwiches and main courses. However, they also serve the cutest high tea in town. In the fall, they serve banana bread sandwiches. The sandwiches are thin slices of banana bread, sandwiched with fluffy cream cheese and various fresh fruits. These little banana bread sandwiches have always been a favorite of mine. I think about them every time I make banana bread at home. This recipe for Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze is inspired by Clementine's. If you ever make a visit to northern Ohio, be sure to make a trip to Clementine's. It is sure to make your heart happy!!

I just used my favorite recipe for banana bread and made a quick cream cheese glaze. The results were delicious and decadent and I will be making this again!

Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered milk
6 tablespoons water
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whip all ingredients with a mixer, gradually adding the sugar to form a glaze.

Notes/Results: If you love banana bread and cream cheese, then you will love this recipe. You could easily cut the recipe for the glaze in half. Half of the glaze would cover your banana bread perfectly. However, if you are like me, you will enjoy the extra glaze. I loved to drizzle the cream cheese glaze over my slices. Being decadent like that is half of my problem :D This is not a recipe for anyone currently dieting, but I'm sure it could be lightened up. I like to serve this banana bread for breakfast, with fresh fruit, and a little extra glaze on the side. It is delicious with hot tea, iced tea, or even a diet pepsi.

Isn't it a sinful little thing?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Baking Series: Caramel Apple Cupcakes-Don't Do It!!

It's eleven o'clock at night and I'm driving home from work. It has been raining and pouring all week in Kentucky. There are times when I felt like I've moved to the world's rainiest place, and this is one of them. Naturally, it's pitch black outside, I have a cold, a headache, and everyone is trying to run me off the road. To quote a friend, "I felt like someone licked the red off my sucker". BUT, I don't have the kids in the car and for once I don't have to listen to Elmo or Mickey playing on the TV. I turn on the radio and Kings of Leon comes on, with their song "Use Somebody". Let's just say that there is never a point in your life where you are too old to turn the radio up and sing out loud in the car. The only difference is that you are no longer driving an 87' Fiero, or a 69' Volkswagen. No, you are not driving anything remotely cool. Instead, you are driving a Chrysler Pacifica, and it doesn't know if it wants to be a station wagon or a mini van. Never mind that Chrysler Pacifica, you are going to sing that song so loud that your headache gets worse with every chorus.

I had planned on coming home and posting my recipe for Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze, but today doesn't deserve such a delicious recipe. Instead, I decided to come home and post the worst recipe I've made all year long! Yes, it is rare when you will hear me say that I don't like a recipe. Not only did I not like this recipe, but 4 out of 5 children didn't like it either. That's saying a lot!! These cupcakes actually went into the garbage can, and that never happens. Don't let this little cutesy title fool you, these cupcakes are not worth your time or the mess. Even the picture looks awful!

I'm including the recipe so that if you see it anywhere you can run far away!!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes - Taste of Home Winning Recipes
1 package (18-1/4 ozs) spice or carrot cake mix
2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
20 caramels
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
12 popsicle sticks

Mix cake batter according to the package directions; fold in the apples. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined jumbo muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. In a saucepan, melt the caramels with milk over low heat, stirring until smooth. Spread over cupcakes. Sprinkle with pecans. Insert a wooden stick into the center of each cupcake.

Yields: 12 jumbo cupcakes or 24 regular cupcakes

Notes/Results: The caramel is so sticky that it just gets everywhere. It sticks to the paper liner and won't come off, it sticks to the cupcake carrier, and it sticks to the roof of your mouth. End result is that it just isn't good. Leave this recipe alone!

However, if you do sing out loud in the car, good for you!! I'd love to hear what songs you like to sing when you're driving in the car, cooking in the kitchen, or just plain dancing around the house!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartar - Recipe #43 Stirring the Pot

There are 88 recipes in Stirring the Pot and I am almost halfway through! Next week will mark the halfway point for me and I will be sharing my top ten Stirring the Pot favorites. Will Tyler's Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartar make this list? Not this time around, but maybe with some tweaking.

Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartar - adapted from Stirring the Pot by Tyler Florence
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
Vegetable oil, for deep- frying
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1 cup for dredging
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups club soda
1 pound halibut fillets, cut into strips or pieces
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
2 lemons, halved for serving
1 recipe Homemade Tartar Sauce (listed below)

Preheat oven to 350F. Prick potatoes all over with a fork. Place potatoes on a baking tray and bake for 30-45 minutes, until knife-tender. If you like, this can be done the night before and potatoes can be refrigerated until ready to fry. Cut each potato into 6 or 8 wedges, depending on the size. Pour about 4 inches oil into a large heavy pot and heat to 375F. Fry half of the potato wedges at a time for 4-5 minutes, until crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Make a well in the center and add egg yolk. Gradually whisk in club soda, working your way from the center to form a smooth batter.

Season about 1 cup floru with salt and pepper. Dredge the fish fillets in seasoned flour, coating both sides, then dip in batter. Fry a few pieces at a time in 375F oil for 4-5 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

When fish is done, place parsley leaves in hot oil. Fry leaves for 15 seconds, until just crispy and slightly translucent. Remove from oil with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels. Serve fish with lemon halves, crispy fried parsley leaves, and Homemade Tartar Sauce.

Homemade Tartar Sauce
In a small-medium sized bowl combine 1/2 cup store-bought mayo; 1/2 cup sour cream; 2 tablespoons caper, chopped; 1/4 cup chopped cornichons; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley; 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon; and 1/2 lemon, juice only. Set in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes b efore serving to let the flavors come together.
Notes/Results: Tyler hits it out of the park with this recipe for batter. You will want to coat everything in this batter, I promise! In fact, you will probably start looking around for all kinds of things to fry so that you can use up this batter. It really is that good. The homemade tartar sauce is also delicious and worth making.

The problem was with the potatoes. Tyler's recipe says to scrub and rinse them, prick them with a fork, and then place them on a baking sheet and bake. Well, this resulted in a very hard shell on the outside of my potatoes. Normally, I would prick my potatoes, give them an olive oil or butter coating, sprinkle with some kosher salt, and wrap them in foil to be baked. This method always yields good results for me. In hindsight, I wished I would have went along with my method of baking these potatoes, but I figured that I would follow Tyler's directions. Mistake!! My chips, or fries, were hard no matter how thin I cut them or how long I fried them. With the potatoes being so hard, they didn't really have a chance. Next time, I will use my method for baking potatoes.

I also wanted to note that you will probably find yourself using more than 1 and 1/2 cups club soda to make a smooth batter. Club soda has so much carbonation in it, it is hard to get an exact measurement. Make sure you have extra if you want to try this recipe.

Also, when you add the parsley to the frying oil.....stand back!! In fact, stand way back. It will pop all over the place!

All in all, this is a great recipe and has great potential to be very delicious! I will make it again, using my method for baking potatoes!

I am submitting this recipe to Tyler Florence Fridays. Stop on by there this weekend to see what everyone else cooked up!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beef Cutlet Milanese with Caper, Roasted Pepper, and Tomato Butter Sauce

It's no secret that I am completely taken with my copy of Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook. I have been cooking a lot of recipes from their book lately. This beef cutlet milanese was interesting to me because I have never butterflied a steak before, nor had I breaded a steak before. Generally speaking, when we have steak it is in the traditional way. We loved all the components in this recipe, so I decided to go for it. I was glad I did. This dish was fun to cook and beautiful to serve. Very colorful on the plate.

Beef Cutlet Milanese with Caper, Roasted Pepper, and Tomato Butter Sauce - adapted from
Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook
Two 8-ounce, thick boneless sirloin steaks, butterflied
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 cups Carmine's breadcrumbs
grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
5 tablespoons Carmine's marinara sauce
2 tablespoons chopped roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
pinch hot red pepper flakes

Using the flat side of a cleaver, a mallet, or a small heavy frying pan, flatten each piece of steak until it is 1/4 inch thick. To make it easier, cover the steak with plastic wrap before flattening it.

Spread the flour on a plate. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow bowl. Combine the bread crumbs and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix them well. Spread the bread crumbs out on a shallow plate.

Lightly season the steaks with salt and pepper.

Coat the steaks on both sides with flour and shake off any excess. Dip the steaks in the egg and let the excess drip off. Coat the steaks completely with the breadcrumbs and press them into the meat to adhere. Set them aside on a tray or large plate.

In a large nonstick pan, heat the oil over med-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the steaks and cook them for about 2-3 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Turn the steaks over and cook the other side for about 2-3 minutes or until it is golden brown. Transfer the steaks to paper towels to drain. Transfer them to a baking sheet and set them aside.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter, add the shallots, and saute them for 1-2 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Add the wine and cook the sauce for about 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, bring it to a boil, and cook it for 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to low. When the sauce is simmering slowly, use a small whisk to whip the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter into the sauce and cook it for about 2 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, roasted peppers, basil, capers, and red pepper flakes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Remove it from the heat and set it aside.

Transfer the steaks to the oven and bake them for 3-4 minutes or until they are hot. Ladle the sauce onto a large platter, place the steaks on top of the sauce, and serve.

Notes/Results: This is a flavorful recipe with a lot of components and we really enjoyed it. The tomato butter sauce is robust and beautiful on the plate. This recipe was a learning experience for me and I had a lot of fun cooking something different. This is something that I will serve again, when we are craving steak, but not the "traditional steakhouse dinner".