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.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
So, it's been a while. And I can bring on the excuses.
Last night for dinner I tossed together some thin spaghetti and browned chicken breasts with a jar of basil pesto. Simple, but delicious. And Suzie made fresh sourdough bread that she turned into garlic bread and served a flan for dessert. See next entry for the flan.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
It got cold this week in Tucson, for a few days anyway, and this meal ended up being the perfect way to usher in lower temperatures. Just a simple turkey and black bean chili topped with shredded cheese and sour cream.
Turkey and Black Bean Chili
two cans of black beans, drained
two cans of diced tomatoes
three tablespoons of tomato paste
one medium diced yellow onion
salt and pepper
Saute the onions till translucent, then add ground turkey and brown. Add diced tomatoes, black beans and tomato paste. Season with a few teaspoons of spices and let simmer. If it looks too thick, add a little chicken broth, maybe about half a cup. Taste and add more spice if necessary. Allow chili to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.