Thursday, March 27, 2008
Ah the carrot cake. I do believe carrot cake is my fave. Well I like lemon cake too. I think my love for carrot cake is really just for the frosting. I mean, who doesn't love cream cheese frosting?? And with the Easter bunny, carrot cake had to be served for dessert.
Trying to find a recipe was a task. I didn't want nuts in my cake, not everyone likes nuts. I didn't want coconut, the Hubs doesnt enjoy coconut and to be honest I don't particularly like it on my carrot cake either. I just wanted some plain ole carrot cake.
**I can not locate the recipe right now. I need to look at my print outs at home to figure out which one I used. I thought I got it from food network & I do recall it said I needed to grate 9 carrots**
So I only got one picture, with the guests already there, they looked at me funny when I was trying to sneak in a picture of my cake. This was delicious. I have more carrots in the fridge and might be making some more this weekend!! I will say though, it was better on Monday than on Sunday. I think maybe b/c it had a day to sit in the fridge that the frosting had better consistency. On ED my fridge was so full, there was no way I could fit the cake in there for the entire time. I think as it warmed up in the house, the frosting started to get too warm.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
My deviled eggs are a bit different you see. Hubs is a self proclaimed ranch lover. It can't be Kraft Ranch or any other brand. It must be Hidden Valley. I finally have him eating the light Hidden Valley Ranch but for awhile there, it was only the original. My mother-in-law came across this giant container of Hidden Valley Ranch powder at Sam's Club, knowing the love of ranch her son has, she bought it and gave it to us. We love it! I use it to make ranch turkey burgers, ranch chicken, etc.. You get the idea. So one day I mixed a little of this powder into my deviled egg mixture and a star was born.
I dont have a recipe, I just mix the egg yolks with some mayo, ranch powder, sometimes a little rach dressing & a dash of mustard.
I do remember I used this recipe for the crust.
1.25 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1. . Preheat oven to 375F or 190C.
2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and process until large moist crumbs form
3. Transfer the dough to a round tart pan (9inch or 13cm in diameter).
4. With floured fingers press the dough into the pan (you can use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crust into the pan).
5. Freeze until firm (around 15min).
6. Take out the freezer, and prick all over with a fork and cover with aluminium foil.
7. Bake until golden for 25 min.
8. Take off the foil and press down the crust with the back of a spoon.
9. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
This came from fellow blogger "Baked"
Look how pretty this is!!!
I wish I had made the tart crust go up the pan higher, I had some drippage from the filling.
Prep Time: 20
Total Time:3 hr 20
Makes:8 servings, 1 cup each
8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
1 small red onion, sliced, separated into rings
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen peas, thawed 1 pkg.
(6 oz.) OSCAR MAYER Smoked Ham, chopped
3/4 cup KRAFT Mayo Real Mayonnaise
1/4 cup KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup KRAFT Natural Three Cheese Crumbles
2 small tomatoes, chopped
LAYER lettuce, onions, peas and ham in large straight-sided clear glass serving bowl.
MIX mayo, Parmesan cheese and sugar. Spread over salad to seal; cover. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
TOP with cheese crumbles and tomatoes just before serving; toss gently.
** Since we were having spiral ham as one of our main meats, I used bacon in place of it here.**
This is where I discovered what I have been doing wrong with my yeast baking experiences. I was trying to figure out how many teaspoons of bread machine yeast are in one active dry yeast packet when lo and behold, on the side of the container it says "For Active Dry Yeast: mix xxx teaspoons of bread machine yeast, with xx cup of warm water & 1 tsp sugar" Hum... I had never done this before. So I get it all mixed up, it looks good, then I knock over the cup. HS*&*(%^&! I start over, this time the yeast is sticking to my spoon & not mixing with the water. HS*&*(%^&! One more time, I make the water a little warmer, mixes perfectly, I set over on the kitchen table, as I know I wont be over there anytime soon.
Anyway, back to recipes, I found 2 on food network that I liked so I combined them. I had this one from the Levain Bakery & another one from Betsy Oppenneer (no clue who she is BTW). I liked the spice mixture from the first one, but I liked the raisins in the second one. So I will post my kluged together recipe.
Hot Cross Buns
For The Dough:
1 scant tablespoon or 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 1/2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown or raw sugar
Spice Mix (see below)
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
For The Glaze:
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For The Icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften (omit this if you are using the bread machine yeast). Add milk, butter, sugar, eggs, spice mix. Add the raisins and stir to combine.
Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding flour a little at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 24 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and put into two well-seasoned 9 by 12-inch baking pans. Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, cut a cross into the top of each bun.
Combine the milk and sugar for the glaze and brush lightly over the top of the buns.Bake for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the buns reach 190 degrees. Immediately remove buns from pans and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.
In a glass measuring cup with a pouring lip, combine the confectioners' sugar with lemon juice and enough heavy cream to reach the consistency of honey. Use to pour into the cross on the top of each bun.
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Mix together all the ingredients.
Let me just say that this process started around 9am and finished around 3pm. My hubs was very thankful they worked b/c I get super pissed off when my baking/cooking fails. Its that red headed leo temper I have. I was/am very proud of these. My grandpa was a baker and I couldn't help but think how proud he must be of me. I am not nearly as fearful of the yeast as I once was.
I will do these in separate posts so I can tag the recipes & items. Like usual, I didnt take pictures of everything because people think I am absolutely nutso for taking pictures of food. I had to sneak in my pictures before anyone got there.
We love hosting a holiday. I love it because I can cook and entertain. Hubs loves it because we have everyone come to our house as opposed to us traveling to everyone else's. Each year we have an Easter Egg Hunt in our yard. But because we live in a new neighborhood, there is minimal landscaping & trees to hide the eggs. We get creative and use the cars in the driveway. One year we put the candy in the plastic eggs. Easter was later that year, in the middle of April, and of course this Midwest weather, it could be snowing in the morning and 80 degrees in the afternoon. Of course, that year it was 80 and the chocolate melted in the eggs. We had about 6 kids running around with chocolate fingers.
We dye eggs outside, we do the whole nine yards. This year we had about 20 guests which seemed just right. One year we had 40 and it was a little difficult, not unbearable but difficult. It was nice this year to be able to relax and of course watch basketball.
So onto the food/menu, we like to have a theme for our dinner. One year it was all Italian food, one year it was more of the traditional Easter dinner (ham & prime rib) This year, we wanted it to feel like Spring so we went with a BBQ themed menu. I think the Hubs really just wanted to use his smoker.
hot cross buns
green bean casserole
angel food cake w/berries
fudgey oatmeal bars
coffee & hot tea
The hubs ended up throwing some pork ribs on the smoker too. My mom brought some shrimp cocktail. We just had tons of food (not surprising) Everything was delicious. I tried a crockpot recipe for the potatoes and it was B-A-D. I'll just stick with my normal oven for this kind of stuff.
And let me tell you, I was not pleased to be cooking or baking on Monday night. When I post our Easter Dinner you will understand why. I have been cooking since Friday. I am taking the week off. It going to be all Sandra Lee/Rachel Ray week with the leftovers.
Here is the spread:
The margarita cupcakes:
The frosting wasn't coming out of the bag looking pretty so we just spread it with a knife. This was my first attempt at buttercream frosting and I dont know why I have ever bought frosting before. This tasted a TON better than store bought stuff and was super easy to make.
We decided to make this a monthly or bi-monthly event. Our next date is in May and we were thinking of doing a deli theme. I am sure we will make enough to serve 75-100 people for that dinner. We even tossed around the idea that we should start our own catering business, we could do rehearsal dinners, birthdays, etc...
Monday, March 17, 2008
So yes, I made the chocolat mint bars from the latest CL magazine and they were delicious. They were really easy to make as well and provided just the right amount of green for the festive holiday upon us. I will say, right out of the fridge they are a little hard to bit into. Maybe let them sit out for about 10 minutes to soften before you serve them.
Chocolate Mint Bars
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1.Preheat oven to 350°.
2.To prepare bottom layer, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, egg substitute, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
3.To prepare mint layer, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.
4.To prepare the glaze, combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 20 pieces.
I took the advice of adding a little dark chocolate to the glaze to give it a more "grown up taste". I think it was a great choice, otherwise it might have been too sweet!
I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that had to be cooked ASAP. I didn't want to roast it, b/c I knew I knew I wouldn't eat it. With the hubs gone, I needed something to make that I could freeze half of it & eat the other half. I hate wasting food.
Well, Nemmie came to my rescue on Thursday when I saw her post for Pork & Tomatillo Stew. I must say, I have never purchased a tomatillo. Sure I know what they are & usually I walk right on past them in the grocery store, I mean, they are tomatoes with husks on them! But I figured, ok the hubs is gone, I will make this & if it doesn't look like Nemmie's or I find out I don't like tomatillos-well no one would know.
So here I am at the P.Chop trying to pick out tomatillos when I realized, I have no idea what the criteria are for a "good tomatillo". So i just picked up all different kinds. some were really light green, some were dark green.
(For those curious, "Fruit should be firm and bright green, as the green colour and tart flavour are the main culinary contributions of the fruit")
Nemmie's Pork & Tomatillo Stew (Food & Wine)
I left out the cilantro b/c I am not a huge cilantro fan. Also, I kept my pork tenderloin in pieces as opposed to shredded. Since I had just shredded the pork for the spaghetti sauce, I wanted a little different texture.
All in all, thanks Nemmie for introducing me to the scary fruit, all wrapped up in its husk, called a tomatillo.
Well the hubs gets back today, so I dont think you will get to see any more weeds for awhile.
Friday, March 14, 2008
I was perusing PopSugar yesterday and saw their post for Irish Soda Bread (actually on YumSugar but whatever) I was intrigued by the caraway seeds. I thought about leaving them out b/c I dont particularly like the way they taste, but the certainly lend well to this bread.
And while I was looking for the recipe I came across this gem: (yumsugar.com)
"Kym Douglas and Cindy Pearlman, authors of The Black Book of Hollywood Diet Secrets, appeared on The Early Show this morning to give away some of their secrets. While they mostly spilled the beans on diet tips, there was one thing that stood out to me: dishwasher salmon. That's right I said dishwasher. You just seal the fish up in foil, toss it in the dishwasher and let it go. The steam, along with a waste of power and water, cooks it through. Just be sure you don't use any soap.
If you think this sounds totally wacko then I should let you know that this is not the first time this has been done. Bob Blumer, aka The Surreal Gourmet, has poached salmon in more than 100 dishwashers on three continents. His recipe actually looks pretty good and comes complete with a piquant sauce. I don't know if I can actually endorse this method, it seems like a waste of energy, but I do think it would be fun to tell your guests you made it in the dishwasher. If you want to try it yourself, get his recipe when you read more "
Um what?? I don't think I would ever do this!
Sun-Dried Tomato Salmon
This was a quick evening meal. I have made sun-dried tomato salmon many a times. Its really quite easy.
1. Take a bottle of Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato dressing
2. marinate your salmon for about 30 mins,
3. roast in the oven at 400 until the fish flakes easily with a fork
Now here is the twist on this one, we had a sun-dried tomato aioli from Viansa so I just topped the roasted salmon with that. I highly doubt it was diet friendly. I mean aioli is like mayo. But it tasted great with this salmon!
Round out the meal with a baked potato & some green beans.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Our diet, or whatever you want to call it, has us eat a lot of fish. I like to find ways to make the fish more interesting. This recipe looked like a winner. I pulled out some tilapia and we were off.
Fish with Pine Nuts, Olives, Basil & Wine
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 firm white fish fillets, such as snapper,
rock cod, flounder, sea bass, halibut,
swordfish or tilapia, each 6 to 7 oz.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 Tbs. finely minced garlic
5 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, shredded
1/2 cup Mediterranean-style green and/or black
olives, pitted if desired
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they take on color and are fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in which they fit in a single layer. In a small bowl, stir together 3 Tbs. of the olive oil and the wine. Pour over the fish fillets. Top with half of the garlic and half of the basil, and then distribute the olives around the fillets. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake until the fish is opaque throughout when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. The timing will depend upon the thickness of the fillets. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fillets to warmed individual plates.
Pour the pan juices, olives and reserved pine nuts into a small sauté pan and set over medium heat. Swirl in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the remaining garlic and basil. When warm and fragrant, spoon over the fish. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
I halved this. There are only two of us and I hate reheated fish.
I toasted the pine nuts in a skillet on the stovetop.
Having baked the tilapia at 400F for 10 minutes (it was super thin) and it still be raw, I up'd it to 425 for 15 minutes and it was perfect.
I served this with some whole wheat pasta, but a lemon risotto would be superb with it. I just didnt think about the risotto until the fish was in oven, the fish would have been done long before the risotto.
Oh this totally looks like something you would get at a restaurant!
Monday, March 3, 2008
I don't measure so sorry about that, but here is what I used:
Cajun Seasoning from McCormicks
I just sprinkled this on the chicken, sprayed a grill pan with Misto and got it somewhat "smoking" then added the chicken and cooked until it was done. I had really thick chicken breasts so I butterflied them to keep the moist.
Served with a little Far East CousCous and some broccoli with cheese (2% cheddar) and "Voila!" you have a meal in about 25 minutes.
Speaking of "Voila". My nephews spent the night this weekend. They are 6 & 3 and very inquisitive. I happened to say "Voila!" at some point and my nephew asked "what does "wah-lah" mean?" Try explaining that to a 6 year old. Basically we said it meant "I am done" or "here I am." Which proceeded to have him saying "Wah-lah" after everything. "Hey Aunt Julie, I got my seatbelt buckled. Oh Wahlah!"
Pappardelle with Smoked Salmon
Courtesy of Cooking Light
1/2 pound uncooked pappardelle (wide ribbon pasta) or fettuccine --> I had to get whole wheat and the only option was spaghetti1 teaspoon butter
2 cups chopped Oso or other sweet onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato --> omitted
1 (10-ounce) package frozen petite green peas, thawed
1 (4-ounce) smoked salmon fillet, skinned and cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Keep warm.
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add broth and cheese; cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Add tomato, peas, and salmon; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in dill, salt, and pepper.
Combine pasta and salmon mixture in a large bowl; toss gently.
Like I said, not bad, but not what I was expecting.