Friday, July 23, 2010

Carrie: ICBC Blackberries

A couple weeks ago the secret ingredient was blackberries. I'm actually not overly fond of blackberries; of all the berries, it's probably my least favorite. However, a couple days after learning what the secret ingredient was, The Pioneer Woman posted a recipe for blackberry cheesecake. It seemed a little like fate to me. So last weekend when I decided to go on a cooking frenzy, I decided I wanted to make the blackberry cheesecake. However, I didn't make it through everything I wanted to make for my cooking frenzy and held off on the cheesecake until Monday night so I could serve it for dessert at Tuesday night dinner. The cheesecake ended up being absolutely delicious. It's definitely a win, and the blackberry sauce looked so pretty on top. I also finally used my springform pan that I got last year from Whitney, and it was amazing. Oh my goodness. It was pretty cool just popping the cheesecake out of the springform.

Blackberry Cheesecake (adapted recipe from The Pioneer Woman)
For Crust
one box of nilla wafers
one stick of butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla

For Filling
three 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 whole eggs
1/2 cup of sour cream

For Topping
2 cups of blackberries
1/2 cup of sugar
2 Tbsp of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place wafers into a food processor and pulse into crumbs then add melted butter and vanilla and pulse until combined. Pour into a 10-inch springform pan and press crumbs into the bottom. If it comes up on the sides a little, that's okay.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sour cream and mix again. Pour mixture over the crust, smooth the top and bake for 1 hour, 10 minutes. Turn off oven, open oven door and allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven with the door opened for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

For the topping, add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour the topping over the cheesecake and allow it to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mini Cheesecakes

I didn't actually eat one of these mini cheesecakes, but the reviews of them came back positive. I made these for the neighbors and brought it over to them the night of their housewarming party. I like individual-size desserts for parties because there's no need to slice anything, and people can just hold it in their hands and eat it. I thought these were especially cute and adorable as well as relatively easy to make. I'd make them for a party again for sure.

Mini Cheater Cheesecakes (Recipe from Delish)
18 vanilla wafers
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 18 muffin tins with cupcake liners and drop a vanilla wafer in the bottom. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Fill the liners 2/3 full with cream cheese mixture. Bake for 17 minutes. Top each with fruit of choice.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Carrie: ICBC Puff Pastry and ICBC Goat Cheese

When puff pastry came up as the secret ingredient, I found a recipe for a caramelized onion tart on Annie's Eats that looked delicious. In case I've never mentioned it, I absolutely love caramelized onions. Then I never got around to actually using puff pastry, and goat cheese came up. And I realized I could combine two secret ingredients into one recipe. I kind of winged this one, and I'm not sure that was the best idea. The flavors were good, but the texture in the middle of my pastry was all wrong. The edges puffed beautifully, but it was too squishy in the middle. I followed Annie's instructions to bake the tart for 25 minutes...and I just realized that I had two sheets overlapping just a little on one cookie sheet and that's probably why it needed longer. Ohhhh. Haha. But anyway, caramelized onions and goat cheese tart is definitely a winning combination. The onions are nice and sweet and the cheese is just a little salty. Loved it.

How to Caramelize Onions
Slice some yellow onions. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet. Turn the stove to medium heat to let the oil heat up a little, then add the sliced onions. Let them cook over medium heat without stirring them around too much. They'll turn tender and brown a little. They should be really tender and all a beautiful golden brown color. And they'll taste delicious.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Carrie: ICBC Lemon

So a long time ago someone chose lemons as the secret ingredient for Iron Chef Blogger Challenge, and I even found a recipe I wanted to make with lemons as the starring ingredient, and then I never got to it for a long time. Friday night, I finally did. It was a long week at work, and I wanted to do something fun on Friday, but couldn't figure out what that was. I'm trying to minimize the drinking this month, so instead of going out, I decided to make a feast. I got too tired and only ended up making two dishes instead of four, but it was still pretty fun. This was one of those dishes.
The pasta was pretty delicious, but tasted very strongly of lemon. I couldn't decide if it was too lemony or not, but everyone else who ate it seemed to enjoy it. And I have to say, the leftovers the next day might have been even more delicious. What is especially nice about this pasta, though, is that it makes a great summer pasta. The sauce is very light, and the vegetables make it feel so bright and fresh. I strayed from the recipe for a few ingredients, using what I had on hand instead. Below is my adapted version. The original recipe is at Dreamy Dish.

Lemon Pasta (adapted recipe from Dreamy Dish)
two boxes of whole grain bow-tie pasta
zest and juice from three lemons
several cloves of garlic
a big bag of spinach
five or six Roma tomatoes
two small broccoli crowns
1 pint of heavy cream
1 cup 2% milk (mostly because I ran out of cream, but I also figure this kind of lightens the recipe)
couple tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh grated Parmesan

Heat a saucepan on medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic, and let the garlic cook for a minute. Add cream, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes. The sauce will thicken. If it curdles, stir the mixture and it'll become smooth again.
While the sauce is simmering, prepare your pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
After the sauce thickens, keep it on medium heat and add the pasta to the sauce. Let that cook for two minutes, then add spinach, tomatoes and broccoli. Toss it all together. I like my spinach slightly wilted, which is what I aimed for here. Pour it into a serving bowl and top with fresh grated Parmesan.
Serves about 10.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chocolate Chip M&M Blondies

For the dessert at the bridal shower, I decided to make something really super simple. I'm really just not a dessert kind of gal, and the simpler the dessert, the better in my opinion. So I made these delicious chocolate chip M&M blondies and served them with some mint chocolate chip ice cream. Not fancy by any means, and I probably could have selected something that would have matched the rest of the menu a little better, but in my opinion, the blondies were still delicious.

Chocolate Chip M&M Blondies (recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup mini M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.
Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. In another bowl, stir together the melted butter and brown sugar. Stir until smooth. Add in the egg and stir. Next, stir in the vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until the ingredients are combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and M&Ms. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 23-25 minutes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

For Suzie's bridal shower, I made this Greek orzo pasta salad, a recipe I found through my beloved FoodGawker. The recipe can be found at My Baking Addiction. It was a really delicious, light pasta salad, a perfect lunch and summer salad.

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad (adapted from My Baking Addiction)]
For the Pasta Salad
one box of orzo
cucumber, diced
four Roma tomatoes, diced
one diced red onion
one diced red bell pepper
one diced green bell pepper
one package of crumbled reduced fat feta

For the dressing (these measurements are all to start, I actually ended up adding a little more dressing because it looked a little dry)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
1 heaping tsp of Dijon mustard
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper

Boil orzo according to package directions. Combine vegetables, feta and orzo. In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients for dressing and mix well. Pour over pasta salad mixture and chill for at least an hour.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bridal Shower Menu

I hosted a bridal shower today for my friend Suzie who is getting married next month. As with most parties, it was delightful to me to have the opportunity to plan a menu. I decided to choose something simple, that would look nice but be easy to prepare. I chose to create an antipasti platter, roasted garlic hummus, Greek orzo pasta salad, and a fruit platter. There were M&M and chocolate chip blondies with ice cream for dessert. I was going to make the hummus myself but got too lazy. Oh well. I did make the pasta salad and the blondies.

The antipasti platter consisted of Genoa salami, hard salami, Wisconsin provolone, white cheddar, pepperoni, antipasti olives, roasted red peppers and marinated artichokes.

Look for coming entries with recipes for the pasta salad and the blondies.

Tuesday Night Dinner Enchiladas

My sister requested enchiladas for dinner this week, so I made a pan of black bean and cheese enchiladas and a pan of my chicken and sour cream enchiladas. The black bean and cheese just used regular shredded Mexican cheese, two cans of black bans, and almost a whole large can of enchilada sauce. The sour cream and chicken enchiladas follows my original recipe, but I've modified it a little by seasoning boiled and shredded chicken breasts with cumin, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper. I also added some sliced white mushrooms this time, which Scott said added a nice earthiness to the flavor. I served the enchiladas with a basic tossed salad and corn.

Spinach with Crispy Garlic Chips

I was looking for a side dish recently for dinner and stumbled across this recipe on The Pioneer Woman. My sister and I both like spinach well enough, and we love garlic so it seemed like a quick, simple option. Spinach isn't really my favorite lettuce, but it's so good for you.

one bag of spinach per two people
four or five cloves of sliced garlic
olive oil

Slice your garlic cloves thinly. Throw the sliced garlic into a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil, then turn the stove on. PW teaches that if you let the oil and the garlic heat up together, your garlic is less likely to burn. Stir lightly and let the garlic brown. After garlic browns, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a paper towel-lined plate. With your stove on medium-low, add the spinach and let it wilt in the oil and heat. Stir gently and season with salt and pepper. Remove to plate and top with garlic chips.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tuesday Night Dinner: Baked Pasta

For the Tuesday night dinner before I went to Denver, I made a baked penne in a mushroom and Italian sausage marinara and topped with shredded cheese. There was also salad and garlic bread, as always. The marinara was amazing, and Scott put this dinner in his Top 10 favorite dinners. I took the time to make the marinara the night before, letting it simmer for an hour and a half and then sit in the fridge all day Tuesday. This is probably what made the sauce that much better, giving the flavors the time to truly meld together. I don't really remember what I did exactly and I never measure my marinara anymore. Crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, plenty of minced garlic, salt, pepper, a few pinches of white sugar, maybe a hint of crushed red pepper flakes. I do love a good red sauce.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Carrie: ICBC Eggs

I chose eggs as my Iron Chef Blogger Challenge ingredient a few weeks ago with dreams of making fancy baked eggs in individual-sized dishes. Search baked eggs on FoodGawker and you'll know what I'm talking about. Then I started realizing that I'm a little lazy most days when I get home from work, and I saw this recipe for Egg Salad on Simply Recipes, and I'm pretty fond of egg salad, so that's what I made for ICBC Eggs instead. One day I'll get to those baked eggs.

Carrie's Egg Salad (adapted from Simply Recipes)
three hard-boiled eggs
curry powder, to taste
diced celery, to taste
light mayo, to taste

Hard boil the eggs, dice them, and combine with celery, mayo and curry powder to taste.

Tip: Once, ages ago, I found the trick to perfect hard-boiled eggs on another food blog. If I could find it for you, I would. But you take room temperature eggs, cover them with water in a pot, bring to boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pot and eggs, and let sit for exactly 12 minutes. Take them out and place in cold water to cool down until you can peel them. Perfect, hard-boiled eggs.