Thursday, June 30, 2011

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream? Yes Please!


  I know, I'm on an ice cream kick. Can you blame me though? It is summer after all! 
  Here's a new one I tried. I did make a couple additions. When adding the crushed toffee pieces I also added some coarsely grated chocolate (I had a Lindt Bar lying around). Oh, and you know that "nut topping" you can buy at the store? Yeah, I added some of that too. I will say that the caramel flavor was a little dark for my tastes, so next time I won't cook the toffee or caramel quite as long as he suggests. Overall a fantastic ice cream!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Love Summer Time!


  One of my favorite things about Summer is making homemade ice cream with all the fresh fruit that's in season. I have to admit, this batch was made with blackberries from last year that I have been saving in my freezer for the right occasion...this was just such an occasion. I will say that this recipe is more of a very decadent frozen custard than an ice cream, and probably my new favorite recipe. Here's why: 
-The nature by which the "ice cream" is made (ie. cooking the yolks).
-It makes a fantastic soft-serve straight from the ice cream maker.
-It stays creamy and easy to serve even after a week in the freezer (many recipes get somewhat icy after freezing over-night and are nearly impossible to dish up straight from the freezer).
-The taste explodes in your mouth! 
  One note for the next time I make this; I will decrease the egg yolks by one yolk (it has a slight protein taste to it from the amount of egg yolks in the recipe). Also, note the amount of blackberries the recipe calls for, this is the equivalent of 4-6 cups (depending on your tastes-my taste is very berry, so I used a lot) of berries.
  I will now be making this frozen custard in every flavor under the sun!!

I've Fallen In Love With Moroccan Food!


  Friday night I tried a new recipe my sister passed along to me. We had friends over to join us and the dish was a huge hit with everyone! I really don't know why I've never cooked Moroccan before (I've tried just about everything else), but I will definitely be venturing more into this delicious avenue of food! 
  Here's what I made:
  I used my cast-iron skillet for it since I don't have a Tagine.
  Mariani is the brand of Apricots I used (they can be found in the produce section of the supermarket).
  Next time I make this I will be eliminating the garlic and using chicken stock in place of the water. The garlic was just too much in the dish, and I think the chicken stock with give it the extra boost of flavor I want.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Something Fun For The Kids


  My sister-in-law posted the neatest recipe on her blog for homemade finger paints. I'm always looking for fun things to do with my kids when it's just a little too warm to be outside (they are happily occupied with the paints as we speak-note the mess that has been made in the bowls), and was excited when I saw this recipe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homemade Tortillas


  I got a jump start on tomorrow night's dinner by making flour tortillas today. These tortillas taste every bit as good as the ones you get in a restaurant and they're so easy to make (I've used this recipe several times and can turn them out in 1 hour start to finish). Here's the link to the recipe.

Praline Pecan Cookies


  I decided to do a little experimenting yesterday. I receive Martha Stewart's "Cookie of the Day" e-mails (are you surprised?), and the one I got yesterday sounded delicious but like it needed something more. Here's the original recipe. Here's what I did differently:

-In place of the 3/4 cups pecans, I made half a batch of Pecan Pralines by using this recipe from Paula Deen. I did make a change to the praline recipe however, by using chopped pecans and spreading the mixture on a silpat-lined baking sheet so I'd have smaller bits for my cookies. I used 1/2 cup pralines in the cookies and still have enough pralines to munch on or make another batch of cookies (which is the plan for today).

-No granulated sugar on top of the cookies. Instead I dusted the tops with a generous amount of powdered sugar immediately after they came out of the oven.

  The end result...heavenly! But hey, I love nuts; especially candy-coated nuts!

  Sorry there's no photo. My kids and I were eating them as they came off the pans.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Menu


  Just in case you have any interest in what I served for dinner last night, my husband requested Gnocchi. Gnocchi is a potato dumpling that is used in place of noodles in many dishes, and something he fell in love with during his time in Argentina. Gnocchi-making is a somewhat lengthy process, so when you attempt to make it for the first time, I would recommend making the Gnocchi the day before you plan to serve the dish. Here's the recipe I used to make the Gnocchi (just a note: traditional Gnocchi are pressed against and rolled off the tines of a fork into the pot of boiling water). And here's the recipe I used to make the sauce I served with it.

Pork and Mushroom Ragu (adapted from a recipe on Bon Appetit)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
Coarse kosher salt  
1/4 cups dry white wine
1 pound boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 ounces 1/4-inch-thick slices prosciutto, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine 
14.5-oz. can crushed Muir Glen tomatoes
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1-1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms and garlic; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer until crimini mushrooms are soft, about 4 minutes. Set aside (there may still be liquid in skillet).

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with coarse salt and pepper. Add pork to pot and sauté until browned in spots, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to medium bowl. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium. Add prosciutto and stir 1 minute. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Cover pot and cook vegetables until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add red wine; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add tomatoes, 1 cup broth, bay leaves and reserved pork. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, add cream and mushrooms and simmer uncovered until pork is tender, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if dry, about 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on the quality of the pork).
  Add Potato Gnocchi; toss gently to coat. Simmer over medium heat until gnocchi are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
Divide gnocchi and ragù among bowls. Sprinkle with some of the cheese and serve, passing remaining cheese alongside. 

Delicious!!! I will definitely make this again, but maybe with penne or linguine noodles to cut down on time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm A Slacker!


  I'm slackin' off today. I got in on a great deal a while back through an online site called Groupon. The deal gave me a Domino's large pizza with unlimited toppings for $8. Of course I was all over that! Who doesn't want a night off from cooking dinner once in a while? Needless to say...tonight this kitchen is closed!

  Not to worry, I'll be back to being a productive member of my household again soon.

Grilled Pineapple


  One of my favorite Summer (and any other time of the year for that matter) treats on the grill is grilled pineapple. Grilled pineapple is incredibly simple and you get great results!

  Remove the outer skin and both ends from a pineapple. Pat brown sugar on the pineapple, coating it entirely. Place the pineapple on its end on the top warming rack of a preheated grill; turn grill down to low. Let pineapple grill 20-30 minutes (without opening the grill for the 1st 10 minutes), turning once halfway through. Pineapple is ready when the brown sugar has begun to caramelize on it. Cut pineapple into long wedges and serve warm-room temperature.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Breakfast For Dinner Again


  I absolutely love having breakfast for dinner. I have more flexibility to experiment with new recipes when I serve them for dinner, because I don't have children complaining that they're "starving" like I do in the morning. Tonight I tried a slew of new recipes (I know, brave), one of which is something I've always wanted to try; souffle. Here's the low-down:

Crab Souffle  
(This is a recipe I adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe. See the original here.)

Grated Gruyere cheese
3/4-1 cup crab meat (about 3 1/2 ounces, finely chopped
1 tblsp. flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
5 tblsp. all purpose flour
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1/8 tsp. (scant) cayenne pepper
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 1/4 c. whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp. salt
8 large egg whites
3/4 c. grated Gruyere cheese

  Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Butter one 10-cup soufflé dish or six 1 1/4-cup soufflé dishes; sprinkle with Gruyere cheese to coat. (If using 1 1/4-cup dishes, place all 6 on rimmed baking sheet.)
  Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, onion and cayenne; cook without browning until mixture begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in wine, then milk. Cook until smooth, thick and beginning to boil, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes; remove from heat. Mix yolks and salt in bowl. Add yolk mixture all at once to sauce; whisk in quickly. Stir in crab and parsley.
  Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm souffle base to lighten. Fold in 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, then remaining whites. Transfer souffle mixture to prepared dish(es).
  Place souffle in oven. Bake souffle until puffed, golden and gently set in center, about 40 minutes for large souffle (or 25 minutes for small souffles)-DO NOT open oven door during first 20 minutes! Using oven mitts, transfer souffle to platter and serve immediately as the souffle will begin to deflate almost immediately.

How did it all go over?

  I loved the souffle, but could tell my husband was not a fan (but he isn't a seafood guy), although he wouldn't say it out loud. 
  The potatoes seemed to be a bit of work for the result. I make roasted red potatoes that are much more simple, and taste a little better in my opinion.
  My husband's a huge bacon fan so I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately it fell a little flat. It was too sweet for both of us and chewy instead of crispy (which is how I like my bacon).
  Overall, one out of three for me. I will definitely make another souffle, just one without crab next time...maybe a dessert one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Update: Using parmesan gets the bread closest to the "real thing".

  I have been looking for a great recipe for one of mine and my husband's favorites. Pao De Queijo is a cheese-bread served at a popular local Brazilian restaurant, and we go crazy over it! I tried this recipe to serve with dinner tonight, and they were a hit (as close as it gets to the restaurant's version).

  If you're wondering why I didn't post a weekly menu last Wednesday, here's the reason:

  I'm finding it a little hard to keep to the menu each week. I'm usually one of those cook-what-sounds-good-today kind of people. As I come across recipes that sound good, I find myself wanting to try them that day instead of waiting a week until the next week's menu. Like today for example, I had some pork ribs in the freezer calling my name, so tonight we're guessed it, ribs!
  So, the solution-I will continue to cook tasty food and post the recipes for you to drool over, I'm just not gonna tell you a week ahead anymore!
  You'll soon notice a change to the page titled "Weekly Menu Wednesday" too, so keep an eye out.

Sweet 'N Sticky Babyback Ribs

For the rub: (optional):
1 tablespoon mild paprika
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all rub ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

BBQ Sauce:
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. + 2 T. brown sugar
1 T. brown mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. honey + 1 T.

Throw all sauce ingredients into a saucepan and stir on high heat until it starts to boil. Remove from heat.

  Coat ribs with rub mixture.  Place ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover ribs with additional foil; fold the foil over the ribs and seal making a sort of tent to lock in the moisture, while not touching the meat. Cook at 275 degrees in the oven for 3 hours (or alternatively on a grill off direct heat).
  Remove ribs from baking sheet, baste with sauce and place on a hot grill. Cook 10-15 minutes or until sauce begins to caramelize. 

  The rub is courtesy of my brother and the sauce my sister (both fantastic cooks in their own right).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dip In To Summer


  Although it doesn't exactly feel like summer in Utah yet (it's still in the 60's and 70's), we're getting in the mood by barbecuing! We attended a fun get-together last night, to which I brought one of our family's favorite dips (thanks to our friend Erin for introducing us to it).

Apple-Pecan Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. apple juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1 apple, diced small
1/4 c. pecans (I like mine toasted)

Beat the cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Slowly beat in apple juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in apples and pecans. Serve with baked cinnamon-sugar tortilla chips.
Note: You may want to add more apple juice to achieve desired consistency.

Baked Cinnamon-Sugar Tortilla Chips

1 10-ct. pkg. flour tortillas
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
butter or margarine, softened

  Combine sugar and cinnamon in a salt shaker (or something similar). Spread one side of a tortilla with butter; sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Cut tortilla into triangles and place on a baking sheet; repeat with remaining tortillas. 
  Bake at 375 degrees 10-12 minutes or until crisp.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fantastic New Recipe


  As I mentioned yesterday, I have been slowly working my way through learning to make different cheeses.  Last night I tried my hand at yogurt-making. Yogurt is something my family goes through a ton of, between eating and cooking with it. The recipe itself is fantastic and incredibly simple, and yet, I flubbed it up; really, my crockpot flubbed it up. I set my crockpot to warm and apparently it was just too warm still, because it just about cooked it. Next time I make it I will be adjusting the recipe; I have made the changes to the recipe below.  However, I still ended up with yogurt (albeit not very smooth and slightly dark in color), so I decided to bake something with it. Can I just say, "so glad I did"! I used the yogurt and my freeze-dried THRIVE Blueberries (which, by the way, are cheaper than if you buy them at the supermarket) to create the most delicious, fruity-tasting Blueberry-Yogurt Bread. So, without further ado, here are the recipes.

Homemade Yogurt

4 cups of fresh, 2% milk
1/3 cup of powdered milk
1/2 cup yogurt (this will be your starter)
  Combine milk and powdered milk in a saucepan; slowly heat the milk on the stove over low-medium heat. The most tedious thing about making yogurt is watching the milk get hot. You need it to hit 170 degrees, but not have it boil. So you want to pay attention to the pot and have a thermometer on hand. Once you've hit the target temperature, remove from heat and then wait for the milk to cool. Unless you put the pot in the refrigerator it will take some time to cool to 108-112 degrees.
  When the milk is cooled to the proper temperature, mix a small amount in with the yogurt. This will break up the yogurt and makes blending it with the rest of the milk easier. Pour yogurt-milk mixture back into the saucepan of heated and cooled milk. Pour yogurt into a mason jar or oven-safe dish, cover with a lid and place in a crockpot. Add warm water to the crockpot, coming to within 2 inches of the rim of the jar or dish. Incubate at 100-115 degrees 4-8 hours (the longer you incubate the mixture the more sour the taste becomes). DO NOT disturb the yogurt while it incubates. Once yogurt has reached desired thickness place in the refrigerator and chill before serving. Makes one quart.

Blueberry-Yogurt Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 c. (FD) THRIVE Blueberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
  Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Combine yogurt, sugar, eggs, orange peel, and vanilla in large bowl; whisk until well blended. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients. Using rubber spatula, fold in blueberries and oil; let rest 5 minutes. Transfer batter to prepared pan (you may sprinkle turbinado/raw sugar on top if you like). Place pan on a baking sheet.
  Place bread on baking sheet in oven and bake until it begins to pull away from sides of pan and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen bread. Turn out onto rack; turn bread upright on rack and cool completely.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mascarpone Cheese Gelato

  Are you wondering what I planned to do with the Mascarpone Cheese I just created? Well, I had something in mind right from the get-go; Mascarpone Cheese Gelato. Gelato is one of those indulgences that I rarely take part in because it's so darn expensive. I've been itching to try making my own and finally gave myself the excuse. I already had all the ingredients on hand (including the vanilla bean, which happened to be left over from a previous recipe adventure) so I went to work on gelato-making this morning. I now have about a half gallon of deliciousness (totally a word) chillin' in my freezer. I have to admit, it didn't turn out quite as creamy as I'd hoped, and next time I think I'll add a tad more lemon zest, but it beats the pants off any vanilla ice cream out there!!!

Mascarpone Cheese Gelato

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
16 ounces
mascarpone cheese, room temperature (I just used my 12.9oz)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

  In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the milk, add the bean, and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain into a clean bowl discarding the vanilla bean. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  Stir in the mascarpone and lemon zest. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese


  If you have never tried Mascarpone Cheese, you are missing out in life! Mascarpone is one of the creamiest richest-tasting soft cheeses. It's fantastic in cheesecake, cannoli, combined with lemon-curd and used as a filling for lemon cake, the possibilities are endless! 
  In my effort to become more self-reliant, expand my knowledge of food and cut costs for my family, I have been researching the art of making homemade cheeses and yogurt. I recently posted my experience with making homemade ricotta cheese (which was fantastic and so cheap), which got me to thinking...If I can make ricotta for half the cost of purchasing it at the store, what about Mascarpone (which is even more expensive-about $4 per 8oz.)? Well, I had cream and a lemon in my fridge, so I got to work on it last night. After 30 minutes heating the cream, 2 minutes of curdling the cream with the lemon juice, 20 minutes resting on the counter and overnight straining in the fridge here is the result.
I now have 12.9 ounces of the most silky, creamy Mascarpone cheese and it only cost me $1.50 in cream! That's a savings of almost 5 times the cost of purchasing it at the supermarket! Soooo worth the little bit of time it took!!! Here's the link to the recipe.
-Just a note: I used ultra-pasteurized cream and it worked great!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

  Sorry I've been a little slim on the postings lately. I'm in the process of preparing to launch my new blog dedicated to my other passion (second only to cooking, of course), Shelf Reliance. I made the decision to split the two when I realized there was just so much information I wanted to get to my readers. I'm working out a few technicalities at the moment, but hope to have the new blog up next week!
  In the mean time, here's what we had for dinner last night. Pork Carnitas tacos with tostadas and guacamole. It's soooo simple and absolutely delicious.

  My cheater version (I have an actual from-scratch recipe I follow when I have the time and ingredients, but this tastes fantastic as well and is faster!): Place a 3-5 lb. pork roast (bone in or out) in a crockpot on high; pour salsa over to cover. Cover and cook 5 hours. Shred pork and return to crockpot for an additional hour. Transfer shredded pork and some of the salsa juices to a jelly roll pan. Broil 5 minutes. 
  Serve in corn tortillas with shredded lettuce, shredded cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Weekly Menu Wednesday


  I have decided that instead of planning a weekly menu for next week, I will be cooking from my "Home Store". I will be preparing my dinner meals solely with what I have on hand in my home. Thanks to Shelf Reliance, this task will be much easier! I will plan my meals a day at a time, so check in with me each day to see how it goes. I feel so strongly about being better prepared for an emergency situation, and this little week-long test run will help me determine just how well my family will fare.

In the mean time, check out my recipe for Cinnamon Rolls (just scroll down till you see the cinnamon roll recipe). I just made some today, but made half the dough into cinnamon rolls and half into raspberry rolls-switching the cinnamon and brown sugar filling for homemade raspberry jam. Delicious!!