Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Restaurant Find: Jasper's Peak

I headed up to Scottsdale a couple weekends ago for a weekend out of town, some shopping, and caught up with fellow Iron Chef Blogger Challenger Lauren M. We finished off our day with a group dinner at a restaurant that a friend's boyfriend chose. It was a little Cajun-style restaurant, Jasper's Peak Bistro, tucked in the way back of a ginormous plaza in what looked like the middle of nowhere. It was amazing.

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

Jen W.: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Chipotle

Hello again, everyone! First off, I want to offer my belated thanks to the awesome Carrie and Sarah Michelle for hosting my rogue ICBC entries on their lovely blog! My poor blogless ass is much appreciative of your hospitality, especially since I didn’t even have to break out my “Will Work for Bandwidth” sandwich board. Not the most figure-flattering outfit, that.

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 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
An onion
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

Sarah: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge

I did it, I did it. Brandon has the picture on his iPhone! I'll post asap.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Chipotle

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.

Wednesday Night Dinner: Chipotle Pork with Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

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

ICBC: Mushrooms

Mushroom Potpies

1 can Cream of Chicken
1 bunch broccoli
2 carrots
1 container white mushrooms (usually blue and Styrofoam)
1 russet potato
1 brown onion
1 roll refrigerated rolls (i.e. Pillsbury)

1. Cut all veggies into small pieces. Put in large pot and heat over medium with some garlic. Veggies should start to soften.

2. Add Cream of Chicken. Add 1 1/2 cans worth of milk. Stir stir stir. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Spoon into ramekins. Top each ramekin with a roll. Bake as per package.


I love these and have been making them for awhile (got the recipe from B's mom). If you are not going to use chicken (like me... I used LOTS of mushrooms instead) I would suggest using 2 cans of Cream of Chicken. Or try Cream of Mushroom.

It is nice to have rolls for dipping with this recipe, so plan to have a few extra (maybe make two packages even).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jen W: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Mushrooms

Note: Jen W. is an old friend from of mine from University of Arizona Desert Yearbook staff days, and she is one of the funniest writers I've ever read. She's also an excellent cook and one of our fearless Iron Chef Guest Bloggers. Enjoy!

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

Lemon Cookies

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
2 eggs
15-oz container whole milk ricotta cheese (fairly certain I used part skim)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Lemon Glaze
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.

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Mushrooms

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
olive oil

Balsamic Reduction
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.

Wednesday Night Dinner: Teriyaki Ginger Chicken and Soy Sauce Green Beans

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

Sarah- Iron Chef Blogger Challenge #4- Bok Choy

A couple things to note about this entry:

1. There is NO bok choy in the stir fry above. There would have been, if my favorite grocery hadn't been out of it and if it hadn't been 4 degrees outside. You just cannot expect me to shop around in 4 degree weather.

2. I don't have explicit directions for you... as stir fry is a kind of go as you go thing... but here's how I suggest you do it.

Bok Choy (hold the Bok Choy) Stir Fry

1. Marinade veggies and chicken (for 3 people I used 2 breasts) separately for at least 30 minutes. Poke little fork holes in your chicken so the sauce gets in there good. I used Panda Express "Mandarin Sauce", soy sauce, garlic and ginger in amounts that looked delicious for marinade and carrots, broccoli and snow peas. I'd also suggest Bok Choy, brown onions, spinach, cauliflower (we'll I'd suggest it if I like it) and bean sprouts.

2. Cook plain white rice (about 1/2 cup per person is plenty!) in a rice cooker.... or you know, however you want.

3. When rice is done, throw your chicken in a pan (along with the left over marinade) and start to cook. Throw your veggies in a wok (with all the left over marinade). Cook chicken till opaque through, cook veggies till slightly wilted.

4. Plate! (Can you tell I've been watching too many cooking shows?) Put the rice on, then veggies, then chicken. Then top with some Mandarin Sauce and soy sauce. Sirracha hot sauce is really good, but super hot so use sparingly. Teryaki sauce is good too, if you aren't fond of Mandarin sauce (me, I could live on it and really did in college).

Sarah- Iron Chef Blogger Challenge #3- Cranberries

So... I don't have a recipe for you. Brandon's Mom made this for us during our stay (well... made two because we ate one whole one in the first two days and then we helped her make another).

It has oats, dried cranberries, raisins, other small dried fruits, and a cup of assorted chips. No additional sugar! In fact, only like 12 grams of sugar in the whole thing, which is especially important since we all just found out that Brandon's dad has diabetes.

Anyway, if I ever get the recipe I'll put it up... it is amazing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

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.

Attempting Beef Wellington

Thanksgiving weekend Sarah Michelle flew into Phoenix for a visit. Our friend Megan is oh so adorably pregnant and was having her baby shower that Saturday. So I drove up early Saturday morning to go to the shower with SM and hang out for the weekend. We have to cook when we're together, obviously, and we chose two missions: beef wellington and Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. This is how far we got with beef wellington.

Sorry, beef tenderloin. We don't make enough money.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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 egg
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.

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Bok Choy

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
soy sauce
corn starch

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

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Cranberry

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.

Wednesday Night Dinner: Lemon Penne Pasta

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.