Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Lauren and her fiance Brian started with these delicious beignets.
I chose the po' boy sandwich with a side of gumbo. I've never had Cajun food before, but if it tastes like this, I would definitely get behind it. The sandwich was so stuffed, I ate it with a knife and fork, and my gumbo was delicious and filling.
Jenna chose a meatloaf entree, topped with tomato sauce and sided with garlic mashed potatoes and wilted spinach. I had a few bites of her mashed potatoes, and I loved the garlicky bite to them.
All in all, a really fantastic meal with some really great friends.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I hesitate to admit this, lest you all find out what kind of uncultured fool I am, but it must be said: when Leigh told us that this week’s Secret Ingredient™ was chipotle, my immediate thought was, “What the hell am I supposed to do with a burrito?” Yeah. I’m that person.
Fortunately, then I remembered that a chipotle is a type of chili. And by “remembered,” I mean I looked it up on Google. Therein, however, lies my second problem: I am a spicy-foods wuss. A big one. Seriously—my friends make fun of me, some restaurants will no longer serve me, and there are entire countries in this world where I would probably starve to death (yeah, Thailand, I’m looking at you). So to say this was going to be a challenge would probably be understating things.
Fortunately for me, on the Eighth Day, God made the Internet. In my search for all things chipotle (except for Chipotle™), I found that butternut squash was one of the more common things you can pair with it. I very much liked the idea of using something sweet to (hopefully) tone down the heat, and I’ve always been a fan of butternut squash, so after a bit of recipe-browsing, I decided to make a basic butternut squash risotto, adding the required chipotle en adobo. Sounds fancy, right? You might almost think I could actually cook or something.
The first step in a butternut squash risotto (bishotto, anyone?) is to roast the squash. The first recipe I found (on Epicurious.com) told me to roast it with the skin on for close to an hour. However, Ina Garten’s recipe told me that I could take the skin off and roast it for 30 minutes. Guess which method I decided to use?
Interesting note: cut-up butternut squash (squatter nutbash, if you’re a Friends fan) looks nothing like you would expect it to. Once you get rid of the trademark khaki-colored rind and the telltale bulbous shape, it ends up sort of looking like…cubes of cheddar. It also could pass for cantaloupe (and smells eerily similar).
In a pinch, I bet it could pass for any number of yellowish edibles. Soylent Orange, anyone?
Anyway, I cubed it up like so, and tossed it around with olive oil, salt, and, because I was feeling cheeky, some nutmeg. I threw it in the oven and was free to prep the rest of the dish. Yay!
Now, most risotto recipes (and by “most,” I mean all) call for a special kind of rice. It has a special name, but I will settle for calling it “Risotto rice.” I am on a budget, however, and I had plenty of Basmati rice at home. Reckless rebel that I am, I decided that I would make MY risotto with that. (Go ahead and tell me it’s not “real” risotto. Tell me I’m spitting in the face of proper Italian cooks everywhere. Do it. See if I care.)
I also decided that if my dish was going to stand up to the flavor of the peppers, it had better have something other than rice and squash in it. In addition to the onion called for by one of the recipes I found and the chilies called for by Leigh, I also added some ground pork, a can of mushrooms (yes, canned mushrooms—I didn’t end up using them in my mushroom ravioli last week. Waste not, want not), and cheddar cheese in addition to the traditional grated parmesan.
I was hoping I could just throw the rice and the meat and stuff into some broth and set it on the stove and forget it…but alas, the risotto technique is more…involved. It calls for a staggering 6 cups of chicken broth, which you must keep simmering in a separate pot. Once you have the rice and onion and stuff browning away in the main pot, you must then add the broth one-measly-half-a-cup at a time, waiting for the rice to absorb it before you add the next ladleful. Now, don’t just go thinking you can add that half a cup and walk away for a minute and come back—oh no, sister: you have to watch that shit. Because if you don’t (and it’s not like I learned this the hard way or anything), the rice will, in an act of brazen rebellion, stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. This was around the time that I remembered: I am actually really f-ing bad at cooking rice. I recommend having someone to talk to during this process, as it can be more than a little trying.
When, at long last, the rice has finally cooked to the right consistency (taking anywhere from 20 minutes to the time that dinosaurs will actually come back to life and re-establish themselves as the dominant species), you add the roasted squash and the cheese and stir it up into something resembling rice-based stuffing.
I served this to my roommate, who loves spicy foods, and my ever-obliging boyfriend, who agreed to eat it even though it featured butternut squash (which he claims is too “smooth and weird and bright” to be an actual vegetable). My roomie gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. My boyfriend…well, he ate seconds (even if most of the squashy bits ended up moving from his plate to mine). And as for me…I mean, I can’t be too sure since OMG-MY-MOUTH-IS-ON-FIRE, but by the grace of sour cream I was actually able to eat it and enjoy it. I might even make it again…maybe with fewer peppers.
Chipotle Butternut Squash Risotto
1 ½ C rice (special or otherwise)
A 2-3 lb butternut squash
½ lb ground pork
1 small can of Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
6 cups of chicken stock
3ish tbs of grated Parmesan cheese
A handful-esque of shredded cheddar cheese
A can of mushrooms (if you want)
Some olive oil and/or butter
Some spices (salt, pepper, and cumin work nicely)
1.Skin the squash and cut it into smallish cubes. Toss the cubes in some olive oil and a pinch of salt, dump them on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven on 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the squash is tender. (When it’s done, you can just turn the oven down to 200 to keep it warm while you finish the other steps.)
2.Start simmering the stock on medium-high heat in its own saucepan. Keep it at a good, healthy simmer throughout the cooking process.
3.In a large pot, brown the chopped onion with some butter and/or olive oil. Chop a few chipotle peppers and add them to the onion—adjust the amount of chipotle according to how spicy you like your food (if you are a wimp like me, it helps if you cut them open first and scrape out most of the seeds).
4.Add the ground pork. Poke at it until the meat is cooked.
5.Add the rice and the spices, to taste. Brown the rice along with everything else for about a minute before adding liquid.
6.Now for the tedious part: add the stock, half a cup at a time, and let each addition absorb into the rice before adding more. Keep doing this until the rice is creamy looking, but not too soft. You may have leftover broth—keep it handy.
7.Mix the squash pieces into the rice and toss the mixture well. Add the cheeses, and keep stirring and cooking the mixture until it is well blended. Add some of the leftover broth to keep it from being too clumpy or too dry. Serve immediately, and have some ice cream on hand for dessert. Just a tip.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This week Leigh chose chipotle for our secret ingredient. At first, I'll admit I read the e-mail with the secret ingredient and went, 'oh jeez, what am I going to do with chipotle?' and was maybe slightly frightened of this ingredient. However, straight to Food Network I went and came out with a recipe for chipotle-marinated pork tenderloin. The recipe wasn't too bad. We overcooked the pork in the oven, but the guys said the middle was pretty tender. Also, I loved my friend Scott's suggestion on how to turn the leftover marinade into a sauce. That would have really pepped the pork up. And I'm lazy, so just click the link above for the recipe. To turn your leftover marinade into sauce, just throw it in a small saucepan and let it reduce on the stove. Scott says the juice in the marinade should help it reduce down nicely.
I combined Wednesday night dinner and Iron Chef Blogger Challenge this week. The Iron Chef entry will follow this one. So I made a Chipotle-Marinated Pork Loin using a recipe I found from Food Network. On the side, I served roasted sweet potatoes and sauteed brussel sprouts. I feel like brussel sprouts are one of those vegetables that maybe get the short stick. Turns out, they're not my favorite vegetable. While I would eat them again, and probably will on occasion, they will not become a staple in my kitchen.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Hello fellow cook-type people! Due to a stint of out-of-town-ness, followed by a stint of illness (Disneyland = thousands of small children = festering haven of disease), this is my first entry in the Iron Chef Blogging Challenge. My name is Jen, I am here now, and I am duly humbled in the presence of your collective culinary greatness.
Before we begin here, I should forewarn you that I am a bit of a Twilight nut. So much so that, when I heard that this week’s Secret Ingredient™ was mushrooms, I could immediately think of nothing but mushroom ravioli. If you a) don’t understand what in God’s name Twilight could possibly have to do with mushrooms, ravioli, or this challenge; or b) DO understand and think I’m really fucking lame…you should probably just give up on this post altogether. Clearly our friendship is not in the cards.
ANYway, now that the haters have left, let us continue. ;) I have become quite the ardent fan of mushroom ravioli, so the idea of making my own was pretty tempting. I thought I might even go so far as to make my own pasta. I thought that might be pretty damn Martha Stewart of me—in fact, I could already feel my smugness level rising to unprecedented heights, and I hadn’t even made my shopping list yet.
So consumed in this fantasy was I, that I even Googled a recipe for homemade fresh pasta—and who popped up first but Martha herself, staring at me from within my monitor with her trademark look of pride mixed with pity. I read the recipe. Eggs, flour, oil…so far, so good. Mixing, kneading, etc. Yep. And then, “using a pasta machine, roll through the widest opening.” Come again, Martha? I could almost see the fine print beneath the line: “You do HAVE a pasta machine, don’t you?” Hahaha. Ha.
But that’s ok, right? I mean, I can just use a rolling pin, can’t I? My fantasy of myself as a homemade-Italian-food-making domestic goddess abruptly shifted to one of me as my grad-school-drop-out self, with flour in my hair and malformed pasta dough sticking like a giant oily barnacle to my rolling pin, with which I would later brain myself in frustration.
Right, then. Fuck it. If it’s too much work for Martha Stewart, it’s too much work for me. Moving on.
My solution presented itself in the pasta aisle of the grocery store: shells! I would get giant shell-shaped pasta, and stuff them with my ravioli filling! Now, I can hear the haters out there saying, “But Jen—aren’t you just making stuffed shells now, and NOT ravioli at all [you stupid whore]?” To you I say: Firstly, didn’t I tell y’all to leave, like four paragraphs ago? Second, blow it out your ass. It’s MY fucking recipe, and if I say it’s ravioli, then it’s still ravioli. Capisce?
The filling was my next hurdle. My brief research into the subject of ravioli filling indicated that it should contain, at the bare minimum, some form of soft cheese and mushrooms. The mushrooms apparently, are the tricky part—most recipes I encountered called for no fewer than five different varieties of ‘shroom, many of them with names I neither recognized nor could pronounce. Because I am myself, and because I shop at Fry’s (as opposed to the local We’re Better, Thinner, And Smarter Than You Grocer’s Cult), I went for the good old-fashioned standard fungus, pre-packaged in that jaunty blue foam container. For kicks, I threw in some pre-sliced portabella caps—and I knew if I needed more, I had some canned mushroom on my shelf at home. Now, THAT’s gourmet, y’all.
While the pasta was boiling away on the stove, I started making my filling (hooray for multi-tasking!). I cut up the mushrooms, but I removed the stem parts first, because they looked pretty disgusting. I mean, let’s not forget what mushrooms ARE people, and where they…grow…ugh. Moving on!
This is the part where I pretty much started flying by the seat of my pants, so to speak. I decided to cook the mushrooms down, because it made good sense. I threw the cut-up chunks into a pot on the stove, with a generous dousing of olive oil and any myriad seasonings I found that I thought smelled good. Cardamom? Why not? I threw in some fresh spinach, too—for color, and to give everything a little more substance.
When that cooked itself to the correct state (and by “correct state”, I mean “well, it looks all brown and hot and stuff, so it’s probably done”), I added everything to my Big-Ass Food Processor (I may not have a pasta machine, but I have this, and it is un-fucking-believable) with some ricotta cheese. [And when I say “ricotta”, I mean it like the proud ignorant American I am: Rick. COT. Uh. Screw you, Giada De Laurentiis.]
I am pleased to say that from here, the dish worked itself out pretty easily. I ground up the ‘shrooms, spinach and cheese into a pretty paste, and put about a teaspoon of it into each cooked shell. I layered the shells in a basic square brownie pan with more ricotta, some pasta sauce I dumped out of a jar (what? You thought I made my own sauce? After I wouldn’t even make my own pasta? We are quite the little comic, now, aren’t we?), and—all importantly—still more cheese. I realize at this point that the dish now looks more like lasagna. Go with it. Just stick the bastard in the oven for 15 minutes, and call it what you want.
As for me, I still called it mushroom ravioli, and I served it to my boyfriend with some frozen green beans and crescent rolls-from-a-can. It was no Port Angeles, and he’s no Edward Cullen (which, all things considered, is to our mutual benefit), but he thought it was tasty, and so did I. So all y’all haters can kiss my fat ass. The end.
Here’s the recipe, of sorts:
Mushroom Ravioli-Type Lasagna Love-Child Thing
-a bunch of mushrooms, whatever type you want.
-some fresh spinach, however much you want
-a box of jumbo pasta shells
-a 14-oz container of ricotta cheese
-a standard jar of whatever pasta sauce you feel like
-a bag of shredded cheese, of likely dubious Italian heritage
-olive oil, oregano, garlic, and whatever other spices you feel like
1)Cook the pasta to al dente firmness (whatever the hell that means—just boil it for like ten minutes or so in salted water.)
2)Drain the pasta and set aside on some wax paper, separating the shells so they don’t all stick together. Butter helps.
3)Sauté the cut-up mushrooms in a pot with some olive oil and garlic (if you like that sort of thing). Add some spices and shit. Cook on medium until the mushrooms are soft, adding more olive oil if they get too dry.
4)Add a handful or two of fresh baby spinach to the mushrooms. Continue to cook on medium-low until the spinach is wilted.
5)Dump the mushroom mixture into a food processor. Add about half to three quarters of the ricotta. Pulse the mixture until it forms a fluid paste.
6)At this point, it’s probably safe to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
7)Fill the cooked shells with roughly a teaspoon each of the mushroom paste.
8)Line the bottom of an ungreased baking pan with some of the pasta sauce. Begin layering the filled shells, opening up, in the sauce.
9)When you run out of room, drop bits of the leftover ricotta strategically over the first layer of shells (I like to make a pretty pattern, but I’m easily amused like that) and then dump another layer of sauce over them. Layer the rest of the shells over this.
10) Top the shells with more ricotta, more sauce, and then enough shredded cheese to choke a horse. Stick the pan in the oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is all melty and awesome-looking. Serve immediately, and congratulate yourself like the smug little Martha-wannabe that you are.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Last year, I found this lemon cookie recipe on a Livejournal community, and loved it. I've got a big lemon tree in my backyard that blooms like mad, and so this recipe turned out to be a great way to use some of my lemons. The cookies always turn out unbelievably soft, and I like them because they're not too sweet. (Have I mentioned I don't have a sweet tooth?) And, according to my youngest sister, they're "awesome." Sisters, they won't lie to you.
Recipe (from somewhere on the Internet)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
15-oz container whole milk ricotta cheese (fairly certain I used part skim)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (2 Tbsp for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes.
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 tsp onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.
So for this week's Iron Chef Blogger Challenge, Sara A. chose mushrooms. I love mushrooms. I think they're delicious and add a nice touch to a lot of dishes. More often than not, I only cook with brown mushrooms, so I decided I'd try something else. I always love the sound of a big portobello cap, but I never cook with it. Changing that up this week! I found this great recipe for Stuffed Portobellos with Balsamic Reduction on Love and Olive Oil, one of my favorite cooking blogs. I adjusted the recipe slightly to accommodate what I have on my hand, and I'd say my stuffed mushroom was a delightful success.
Stuffed Portobello with Balsamic Reduction (adapted from Love and Olive Oil)
4 portobello caps
package of frozen spinach (I didn't note the size of the package, but a smaller one should do)
1/4 cup chopped artichokes quarters in water
1 cup of diced yellow onion
1/4 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 ounces of goat cheese
Italian seasoned bread crumbs
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Prepare the spinach according to package directions, then set aside to cool. Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to brown slightly. Add minced garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds to a minute. Set aside. Drain the spinach and squeeze out the excess water. Combine the spinach, onions and garlic, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, mozzarella, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in bowl and mix together well. I just eyed the mozzarella and the bread crumbs.
Place the caps on a baking sheet. (When preparing mushrooms, just take a damp towel and wipe off the tops.) Stuff the caps with the filling, then sprinkle more mozzarella on top. Bake in oven for approximately 15 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.
While the mushrooms are baking, prepare your balsamic reduction. Combine the balsamic and brown sugar in small saucepan over medium high heat and whisk until sugar dissolves. (At this point, Love and Olive Oil calls for a sprig of thyme but I didn't have any, was going to use dried, but forgot so there we are.) Reduce heat and allow the balsamic to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until it reduces by half. The sauce should be thick and syrupy. Drizzle over the finished stuffed portobellos and serve immediately. I'm not sure if mine was reduced quite enough, but it was still delicious.
This was one part of Wednesday night dinner this week. I also made my Iron Chef Blogger Challenge recipe of the week, but I'm putting that in a different post. Everybody's got a few go-to dinner recipes, right? Teriyaki sauce is rapidly becoming the star of my go-to dinners. I purchased this teriyaki ginger sauce at Sunflower Market, and I love it on pork and chicken. Then I always serve it with green beans and steamed rice. It's really quite a great dinner.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Sarah Michelle got to meet The Pioneer Woman at her cookbook signing in Denver, and we were both so so excited. We love PW, and according to Sarah Michelle, she's just as fantastic in person.
PW always talks about her delicious cinnamon rolls. I attempted them once with another friend, and I wanted to make them again. So Sunday morning, Sarah Michelle and I rolled out of bed and hit the kitchen. Our cinnamon rolls turned out delicious, but oh man, what a mess. We were trying to catch filling with a bowl as it oozed out of our roll and off the table. Be prepared for a disaster kitchen when you make cinnamon rolls, friends. But when you eat one, it's totally worth it.
Link to recipe.
Sorry, beef tenderloin. We don't make enough money.
Friday, December 4, 2009
I have leftover cranberries that I had to find a way to use so I settled on more baking. The holidays just put me in a baking mood, I think. I'm going to have a baking frenzy on Saturday. I love cookies. I don't eat a lot of them, but one good cookie is so satisfying. I picked this recipe from Just Another Foodie and modified it just slightly by using fresh cranberries instead of dried. I didn't know how that would turn out, but I think it turned into a fantastic success. I'll be making some more this weekend.
White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies (recipe from Just Another Foodie)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda, then stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. (I very carefully made sure there was only one cranberry in each cookie so as not to overwhelm the cookie with any tartness.) Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Erica chose bok choy as this week's secret ingredient. I've cooked with bok choy on an occasion; it's another ingredient that I grew up eating. It's a Chinese vegetable, most similar to a cabbage or lettuce. It was also very handy because in the December Real Simple was a recipe for gingery bok choy. They pair it with sesame chicken, but seeing as how I didn't want to have to purchase sesame seeds, I decided against their chicken. I paired my gingery bok choy with teriyaki ginger chicken. It was pretty good, though I may have added a little too much soy sauce. I'm not much for measuring.
Gingery Bok Choy
bok choy or baby bok choy
grated fresh ginger
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce (about a 1/4 cup to start) with ginger, sugar(1 or 2 Tbsp), water(1 Tbsp), and a tsp of corn starch. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat and add the bok choy. Cook until it softens, 1 to 2 minutes, then add soy sauce mixture and cook until liquid thickens slightly and bok choy is tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Other Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Bok Choy Recipes
Bok Choy (Sans) Noodle Salad
Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce
Thursday, December 3, 2009
For the third week of Iron Chef Blogger Challenge, Michele chose cranberries. I don't really have much experience with fresh cranberries. I grew up in a household that served the canned cranberry stuff at Thanksgiving, and I love Craisins, and vodka cranberry cocktails, but other that, I'm not really friends with cranberries. I visited Ocean Spray as a kid, I think, for a class trip, and I didn't love it so it started a lifelong thing where I think I dislike cranberries. But Iron Chef Blogging is all about learning and loving new ingredients so here we are.
I chose to make this Lemon Cranberry Bread from Adventures in Baking. It ended up alright, a little too tart. Probably doesn't need the lemon glaze on top of the loaf, but it was a nice bread.
Lemon Cranberry Bread (recipe from Adventures in Baking)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cranberries tossed in 1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of 8×4x2-inch loaf pan; set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture; set aside.
3. In another medium bowl combine the egg, milk, oil, and 1TBSP lemon juice. Add the egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in the cranberries and lemon peel.
4. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean.
5. Meanwhile stir together 2 TBSP of lemon juice and 1 TBSP sugar. While bread is still warm in the pan, brush lemon-sugar mixture over the top of the loaf. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan; cool on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before serving.
I was without Internet for a couple weeks so I'm going to blog what you've been missing out. This was a lemon penne pasta I made for Wednesday night dinner that I served with a (grocery store) roasted chicken and roasted asparagus. I pulled the recipe off of Tasty Kitchen.
Click here for the original recipe. It was really very delicious. Our only adaptations to it were that we didn't add green onion and my friend added a little herbs de provence for seasoning.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Coconut and Cranberry Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
scant 3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment.
2. Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon, then beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Sift together the flour and a pinch of salt into the mixture, add the coconut and cranberries, and stir until thoroughly combined. Scoop up tablespoons of the dough and place in mounds on the prepared cookie sheets spaced well apart.
3. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5-10 minutes, then using a metal spatula, carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
I got this recipe from my sister-in-laws cookie cookbook, 1 Dough, 100 Cookies by Linda Doeser. Originally I was going to make cranberry and orange muffins, but after taking off to my in-laws house for Thanksgiving in a hurry, I realized halfway up that I forgot to take the orange peel that I bought with me, along with my recipe. Rather than turn around, my sister-in-law let me use her cookbook and I thought that these cranberry coconut cookies looked delicious so I decided to give them a try.
The only thing I changed about this recipe was the coconut. Instead of the unsweetened coconut I used sweetened because that was all I could find. I'm sure the cookies tasted a little more sweet than they were supposed to, but the cookies still came out absolutely delicious. Even my husband, who does not like cranberries, liked the cookies, along with the rest of his family. They were absolutely addicting too. You definitely could not eat just one. Let me tell you though, after eating these cookies, I will definitely be working out tonight! Definitely not the healthiest cookie seeing as though they required 2 whole sticks of butter!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Note: Becky is one of our Iron Chef Bloggers who will be guest blogging on Two Friends Cook.
Indonesian Coconut Chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 lbs. chicken drumsticks
2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup scallions, sliced, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, fennel, and cinnamon. Rub the mixture all over the chicken drumsticks. Place the chicken, any leftover seasoning mixture, onions, coconut milk, water and lemon juice in the Crock-Pot slow cooker. Cover; cook on Low 6 to 8 hours (or on High for 3 to 4 hours). Garnish with scallions.
I got this recipe from The New Creative Crock-Pot Cookbook, by Robin Taylor Swatt. Part of the reason why I chose this recipe was because it sounded easy to make, plus most of the ingredients I already had on hand. The only things I needed to buy were the onions, the chicken, the coconut milk and the scallions. Another reason why I chose this recipe is because I thought not only would I like it, but my husband would like it as well. He's a pretty picky eater, but he does like Asian cuisine. The fact that this recipe was Indonesian also sparked my interest seeing as though me and my family may be moving there for a couple of years sometime in the future because of my husband's job. I thought it would be fun to taste one of the recipes that Indonesia has to offer.
I ran into a couple problems shopping for the ingredients. For one thing, I could not find a 2 lb. package of chicken drumsticks. The closest I could find was only 1.75 lbs. I didn't think it would make that much of a difference, but in the end it became a small problem because we were still hungry after dinner! I also could not find scallions. Neither the produce section nor the Asian food aisle had them, so I ended up doing without. Also, when I got home I realized that the coriander and fennel I had were not ground. I mixed them up anyways and them tried to grind the spice mixture in the blender, but it didn't make much difference. Also, there wasn't nearly enough of the spice mixture to evenly coat all of the drumsticks.
I prepared this dish early in the morning, so I chose to cook the chicken on Low instead of High. In my experience with crockpot cooking, I've found that the food typically tastes better if it's cooked on the Low setting anyways. All in all, I was satisfied with this recipe. The chicken was both spicy and sweet at the same time, if that makes sense. The cumin and coriander made it spicy, but the coconut milk and the cinnamon balanced it out. One thing that I like about crockpot cooking is that the meat always seems to just fall off the bone, and this was no exception. I gave a little piece to my daughter, and after that first bite she seemed a little skeptical. I thought maybe it was too spicy for her, but the next thing I knew she was chowing down faster than I could get the pieces of chicken on her high chair tray, so I think it's pretty safe to say that she was a fan. My husband also said it was delicious, but thought that there was too much onion.
If I ever make this dish again, I think I will take the time to buy ground fennel and coriander, because every once in awhile I would bite on a coriander seed and it was just too much spicyness. Also, I don't think the recipe needed quite as much onions. I think just one sliced onion would've been fine. But all in all, I give it a thumbs up. I just wished that there was more. Usually I'm often left with leftovers when I cook but that was not the case this time.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Pizza is definitely one of my favorite foods. It's also one of those foods that comes in a million different ways, usually all delicious. For this week's Wednesday night dinner, I decided to go with a French bread pizza and found this Rachael Ray Super Stuffed French Bread Pizza recipe. I didn't want to deal with all of those ingredients, not to mention, make dinner a little cheaper, so I adapted the recipe a little bit. It was pretty delish, and came together easily and quickly.
Stuffed French Bread Pizza
1 loaf of French bread
4 Italian sausages
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 big can of crushed tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
salt and pepper
1 package of shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut loaf of French bread into quarters and hollow it out.
Throw crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce with minced garlic, salt and pepper, and Italian seasonings into a pot and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove sausage from casings and crumble. Throw a few tablespoons olive oil into skillet over medium high heat. Cook diced onions until translucent then add sausage. Brown sausage then add bell pepper and cook until tender.
Stuff bread with sausage mixture, pour marinara sauce over mixture, then top with mozzarella. Put into oven and bake till cheese melts and bread is crisp.
I was the lucky blogger who got to choose the ingredient for Week 2 of our Iron Chef Blogger Challenge. After last week's adventure searching for rhubarb, I decided to select an ingredient that I thought would be relatively easy to find. I also wanted something that was versatile and inexpensive. After much back and forth on ingredients, and much cooking blog browsing, I settled on coconut milk. It's an ingredient that I grew up around, as my mom often used it in her cooking. I, however, have never cooked with it myself. I also didn't create a rule, but instead told everyone they should try and challenge themselves with the recipe. I took my instructions to heart and decided to try and find a recipe that would require baking.
Maybe you've noticed, but I don't bake very often. Sarah Michelle is clearly the baker of the two of us. I don't mind baking once I'm doing it, but it always seems like such a production that I'm just not willing to get into. It makes a horrible mess of my kitchen and I don't have enough counter space and really, I don't even eat baked goods so they also tend to just sit around waiting for other people to eat them. So baking was my challenge.
I found this coconut scone recipe on Baking Bites. I always thought scones should be this really difficult thing to make, and actually, it was a breeze! The scones were delicious and everybody who ate one agreed. The best part? I felt like a baking rock star afterward. The only thing I would change is that I would add a little more shredded coconut, maybe 3/4 of a cup.
Coconut Scones (from Baking Bites)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
approx. 1/2 cup coconut milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add butter and toss to coat.
Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse sand. A few larger bits are ok, but most should be smaller than a pea. Stir in shredded coconut.
Add in about 1/3 cup of coconut milk and stir into dough with a fork. Add remaining coconut milk as needed until dough comes together into a shaggy ball. Knead lightly with your hand until dough is smooth.
Divide dough in to two balls and press each into a disc about 1/2-inch thick on prepared baking sheet. Cut each disc into quarters and separate slightly.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until scones are a light golden brown on top.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Cream together margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs. Sift together dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture, alternating with applesauce, beating after each addition.
If you like, stir in ¾ cup (175 mL) chopped walnuts before pouring batter into loaf pans.
Pour into two prepared (sprayed or rubbed with a bit of butter or margarine) 8-by 4-in. (20-by 10-cm) loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour or until done. (Start checking at the 50-minute mark.)
Remove and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pans and putting on rack to cool completely.
Combine ½ cup (125 mL) sifted icing sugar with 1 tbsp. (15 mL) water. Pour over cake.
This is super easy to make (as long as you don't decide to fix the alignment on your mixer in the middle of making the batter), can be made without really having to buy any extra ingredients (if you have a baker's pantry like I have accumulated) and was a big crowd pleaser.
Note that you are going to need 2 bread loaf pans. I didn't and therefore I had to grab the closest thing that I had to another bread pan, and being flustered and on the phone I forgot to oil it before pouring the batter in. I knew immediately and should have poured it out, oiled, re-poured in, but I didn't. There is a reason there are no pictures of that cake above.
While this was a wonderfully delicious cake, I didn't really taste any apple, which is something that Patient in the Pantry said made this cake her favorite. I am not 100% sure that adding more apple sauce would fix this (maybe I was expecting too much apple) because it just bakes away. Next time I'm going to add a little more and she how it goes.
Also note, Brandon hated how this cake baking made our house smell (you know, like any baked good with cinnamon and nutmeg in it), and I will admit that I was super surprised at how the smell infiltrated our whole house. I liked the smell.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I was so excited when Sarah Michelle suggested the Iron Chef Blogger Challenge. I think it's going to be a great way to incorporate new ingredients and recipes into my cooking repertoire as well as a great way to connect with all of the other Iron Chef Bloggers. I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with for these challenges.
Like Sarah Michelle, I've never eaten or cooked rhubarb so this was definitely an adventure. After a mad Wednesday evening hunt, a Facebook comment led me to AJ's Fine Foods, where I was able to pick up a bag of frozen cut rhubarb. For my recipe, I Google searched recipes with rhubarb and found this little gem. I'm not much of a baker, lacking in both time and patience, and so I was pretty excited to find this dinner recipe, Wild Blueberry Rhubarb Pork Chops.
It was pretty simple to put together, though my sauce ended up a little chunkier looking than the image pictured on the site. Not a big deal. Probably needed to let it reduce more, but it was already 9:00 and I was ready for dinner. My sister really enjoyed the pork chop, and I thought it tasted good, but I'm just not a sweet person, and this was definitely a sweet sauce. It had a hint of tartness, but still, not really my cup of tea. I think this would also work excellently in desserts and as a fruit compote over pancakes or French toast.
Preheat the oven to 400°f (200°c), ensuring the rack is in the middle. Butter 4 individual 1-cup (250-ml) ramekins.
Mix together water, cornstarch and half of the sugar in a small pot, then add therhubarb. Simmer, stirring constantly for about three minutes. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and the remaining sugar.
In a second bowl, whisk the egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined. It will make a thick batter.
Reserving ½cup (125 ml) of the rhubarb mixture, divide the rest of the fruit and syrup among the ramekins. Spoon the batter evenly into each dish over therhubarb. Top each ramekin with a portion of the remaining rhubarb syrup mix.
Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the tops are slightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly and then serve.
I got to pick the ingredient and rule this week for Iron Chef Blogger Challenge. Having seen rhubarb a lot, but never worked with it or eaten it, I thought that it would be a great way to start off the competition. The only way I had ever heard of anyone eating rhubarb before was in pies, so I knew right away that I would make this week's rule "No Pies".
Did you know rhubarb is seasonal? I didn't. Wikipedia didn't either. I spent quite a lot of time looking for rhubarb this week, and actually had to drive 20 minutes north of the city to get to a grocery that even had any (and frozen at that).
I love baking. More than math homework. More than Gray's Anatomy. Almost more than getting my nails done.
And I love cupcakes. More than real cake. More than chicken. More than cucumbers. So when I saw this recipe on a blog I frequent, Patient in the Pantry, it stuck in my head as what I should make this week.
But no. No first I looked around and found a rhubarb and potato thing that I had even intention of making as to expand my cooking experience. I made a shopping list and everything, but I just couldn't do it. I ripped up the list, laughed maniacally and did a little happy dance in front of my oven.
So I love the cake on these, but found the rhubarb a little too tart to enjoy without a big chunk of cake. How to fix it? I'd recommend adding a little sugar over the rhubarb mixture before putting the batter in.
Also, don't fill the cups up too much. I used 6 ramekins and almost all of Mine overflowed. I'd say fill the cups less than 2/3 full with the rhubarb mixture and then put the batter in.
Introduce the world (of my friends) to my Iron Chef Blogger Challenge.
Three friends and I have been working on the first challenge all week.
Essentially, the program goes as follows. One participant will choose a secret ingredient and cooking rule for the week and email it out by Saturday at 9pm PST. Contestants then have till the following Saturday at 7pm PST (so about 7 days) to cooking with the ingredient and rule, and create a blog entry about the experience/recipe. Every participant will get to pick an ingredient, and we are going in the order of which people join to program.
As I know that not everyone that is into reading a blog is into blogging... so if anyone who would like to participate and publish their information on this blog is welcome to.
By no means does everyone have to participate each week, just let me know if you do not want to participate for that week before the ingredient is announced!
I think that this program is going to be a super fun way to keep in touch with current friends, make some new ones and explore new cooking techniques/ingredients.
If anyone wants to join please just message me and I'll make sure you get on the email list!!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Quiet dinner this week. I had to adjust tonight's dinner slightly because I couldn't locate an ingredient. Instead, I marinated boneless pork loin cuts in teriyaki ginger sauce and pan fried them. Mashed potatoes and veggies tossed in garlic and soy sauce on the side.