Saturday, November 1, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Beef Rendang

This month's Recipes to Rival post is probably going to be my last blog post for a while. I have a lot going on right now and just need to focus on other things. I still plan to cook great dishes, just not take the time to blog about it. I'll miss Recipes to Rival and The Daring Bakers.

Anyway, this month I co-hosted with Rayrena of
Happy Cows. It was her birthday month, so very fitting for her to be able to host.

I was glad to be making a curry dish for Lee. He loves it so much. I had a bit of difficulty finding all of the ingredients. I went to a local Asian market and a local Indian market (just in case the Indian one had some ingredients) and couldn't find the galangal, kaffir lime leaves, or duan salam leaves. I ended up finding ground galangal at Penzeys (regular ginger could be a substitute), used some lime zest for the kaffir lime leaves, and some regular bay leaves for the duan salam leaves.

This is definitely a dish for a day when you're sitting around the house. After three hours, all the liquid hadn't yet reduced, but we ate it anyway because we were hungry and we like saucy curries anyway. We probably didn't get the full experience, but it was pretty good and Lee loved it. Other people had to reduce their rendang for about 5 hours!

Make sure you are careful about where you serve this! The tumeric stains like a @%^#$@! Lee was eating some leftovers as lunch the next day at his computer, spilled it on the floor, and the tumeric looks like it's all out until you look at it in sunlight. I think that's strange that we can now only see the tumeric if the sun hits it... I learned that hydrogen peroxide can help. We also used a Woolite Rug Stick to help out. I think we got as much as possible, but if anyone has any more suggestions for getting turmeric out of the rug, I'd love more ideas!

Look at all the fat I strained out!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rubber Chicken: Day 3

Tonight was chicken pot pie night. I've always thought I didn't like chicken pot pie. My mom used to make it for dinner quit a bit, but I always hated it. It turns out that I hate the frozen chicken pot pies with the mixed vegetables inside. A family I nannied for had me try Willow Tree chicken pies and those were pretty good with just the crust, gravy, and chicken breasts.

Penzeys had good timing for sending their Thanksgiving catalog. There were a few ideas for turkey leftovers and I think most turkey recipes work just fine with chicken. There was a recipe for turkey pot pie in the catalog, so I adapted it for the chicken and what we had on hand.

I had about 1 cup of leftover gravy. I think leftover potatoes or carrots would probably be ok to throw in the pot pie too and save you a bit of time. I wanted to make the pie crust, but I got out of work a lot later than I planned, so I grabbed a box of pie crust at the store on my way home.

Even though this chicken pot pie had vegetables (peas no less, a food I really just don't like) it was really good! To make this better, I'd just use a homemade pie crust. This is supposed to serve 2, but with our salads before, we probably could have made this serve 4. I think it depends on how much you eat.

Chicken Pot Pie
serves 2-4

2 medium-small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
½ cup frozen peas
1 cup leftover gravy
½ cup milk
curry powder
granulated garlic
ground pepper
1 cup leftover chicken
1 egg yolk, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Place potatoes in a pot, cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add carrots to the potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Drain the potatoes and carrots. Mix in the peas. Set aside.
  5. In a sauce pan, pour gravy and milk. Whisk together.
  6. Add salt, curry powder, garlic, and pepper to taste (1/4-1/2 teaspoon each).
  7. Heat until the gravy looks like a thick sauce.
  8. Shred leftover chicken and mix into vegetables. Pour into 1½ qt. cassrole dish.
  9. Pour the gravy mixture over the vegetables.
  10. Top with crust and brush with egg yolk. Pierce with knife or fork to vent.
  11. Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes or until crust is brown and bubbly.

Rubber Chicken: Day 2

Day 2 of my Rubber Chicken Challenge was curry night. Curry is a great dish for stretching the chicken because you can add so much other things to it and the rice is so very filling. Adding some mixed vegetables is definitely a great way to stretch the meat.

I used 1 cup of chicken I just picked from the carcass and added it to the curry sauce as it was simmering.

I used the recipe from my first curry, but I used granulated onion and garlic and it just didn't taste the same. I'd definitely use the "real" onion and garlic in the future.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rubber Chicken: Day 1

I've been a bad blogger. I have been horrible about posting lately, but I haven't been cooking much either. I've either been unmotivated, or like with my apple stuff, forgetting to take pictures to blog about it. I did make fabulous apple butter and apple pear sauce, but forgot to take pictures!

Anyway, at a forum I belong to, there was a thread a long time ago about Rubber Chicken. The idea is to make the chicken stretch to as many meals as possible. The thread was revived a few days ago and today I decided to do a Rubber Chicken challenge. The biggest part of this challenge won't be to think of a variety of ways to use the chicken, I already have ideas thanks to that thread, but to make sure my human garbage disposal boyfriend feels full at the end of the meal without needing to eat a lot of meat. With today's economy, I'm sure a lot of people can sympathize.

I didn't decide to blog about this until we were sitting down to eat, so I cheated and used boxed scalloped potatoes. If I'd planned to blog, I would have made them from scratch. Oh, well. That's not the point of this challenge.

I am also not going to post the recipe for the stuffing. It's a family favorite and although they would probably not mind me posting the recipe, I think that even in this time of sharing information and recipes, some things should still be kept in the family. I will tell you that it involves sitting over a bowl, picking white bread (preferably stuffing bread), onions, poultry seasoning, and butter.

I started off with a 6.75lb chicken. I made a mirepoix with carrots, onions, and celery flakes (yes, I know it should be real celery, but we're trying to economize and I didn't want to have to buy any of this except the bread because we eat wheat but I like white for the stuffing, and the chicken itself). I cooked it low and slow in the oven at 325°F for 3 hours. I am a person who loves the flavor the stuffing gets from being inside the chicken. If you don't stuff the chicken, it won't take as long to cook. I always cook my poultry upside down for most of the time. It makes the breast meat so moist and juicy!

Rubber Chicken Meal #1:
Roast Chicken
Scalloped Potatoes

Rubber Roast Chicken

1 6.75lb chicken
mixed herbs
rubbed sage
ground black pepper
kosher salt

  1. Remove giblets. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Stuff with stuffing.
  3. Sprinkle herbs evenly over both sides of the chicken.
  4. In the bottom of the roasting pan, place in the mirepoix. Put the chicken on top of the mirepoix, upside down.
  5. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil.
  6. Cook for 2 hours. Remove foil and turn chicken over. Cook for remaining hour.
  7. Allow chicken to stand for a a few minutes then carve.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Dumplings!

I completely forgot to post on posting day! I've been so busy that it just skipped my mind. I KNEW I should have used the Blogger in Draft feature!

Anyway, I did do the challenge and did pretty well.

The dough was a failure for me at first. It was just way too goopy and I couldn't get it to come together the right way. I had to try again and ended up getting them thin enough. My circles weren't perfect, but that's what makes them homemade!

The filling was really easy to make and tasted INCREDIBLE! I made the shrimp and turkey recipe. I just used my tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out the right amount.

It was difficult to do the pleating. I'm not sure I did it right, but the taste is what counts, right? I ended up also doing some tortellini-shaped dumplings because I got bored with the pleating.

I have a steamer basket for my pots and pans set, but it doesn't fit properly. I ended up not using the basket because I had just seen an episode of Tyler's Ultimate in which he was looking for the ultimate dumplings and one guy was making potstickers. Other Rivalers had made some potstickers, so it seemed like it was allowed within the rules. I learned they are called potstickers for a reason. They stick to the pot like crazy. If anyone has tips to help potstickers not stick so badly they tear apart, I would greatly appreciate it!

The dumplings tasted amazing! Lee and I both ate way more than we should, especially since I made a full Chinese meal with lo mein (chow mein for the UK) and sweet and sour chicken.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Apple Cider

I love going apple picking in the fall. I didn't get to go last year, but Lee and I did go this year. We went to a place that has apple and pear picking. We got 10 Bosc pears and a bunch of MacIntosh, Cortland, Royal Gala, Empire, and Liberty apples. Today I started a cook-a-thon with the 20 pounds of fruit we got!

I've started some apple butter, but can't post about that yet because it's still simmering. I'm also going to make something with the pears later this week after they have ripened.

One thing I did start and finish today was apple cider. It turned out really well and I didn't even have to use a press!!

The only problem I had was straining the pulp at the end. I was squeezing the cheese cloth and I had a load of pulp squirt all over the wall!

My cider turned out just a little watered down, but I'd just make sure not to put quite so much water in next time. It still tasted delicious, though!

I'm not sure how often I'll make cider, but this is a great recipe to keep on hand if I have a bunch of apples that need using up!

Apple Cider (yields 1/2-3/4 gallon)

10 apples (I used a mix of all apples we picked)
½-1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon (or 4 sticks)
4 tablespoons allspice

  1. Cut apples into quarters, leaving all parts intact.
  2. Place apples in a large stock pot and pour enough water to cover all but the top layer of apples.
  3. Place in spices (put in cheese cloth to keep separated).
  4. Bring to a boil and boil for one hour.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 2 hours.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  7. Remove spices and mash apples, using a potato masher, to a pulp-like consistency.
  8. Strain through a double layer cheese cloth, squeezing out any extra juice.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Mac and Cheese that Won!!!

I did it!!! I did it!!!! I did it!!!

I found a mac and cheese recipe Lee likes!!!!

I wasn't planning on blogging about this recipe, but sometimes life comes out and surprises you. I've made this recipe I found on Recipezaar before, but Lee wasn't home. I had wanted a quick mac and cheese recipe for lunch and didn't have any Velveeta. I liked it, thought the garlic taste was a little much, but I had a large clove of farm-fresh garlic, so blamed it on that.

Today I wanted mac and cheese for lunch and decided to use this recipe again, with a few variations. I used a smaller clove of garlic, just one, and instead of just cheddar, used part cheddar, part Monterrey Jack. I also made a bit more mac and cheese so that way I could use the whole can of evaporated milk instead of having leftover milk. Lee came in as I was cooking the garlic in the butter and got excited about the smell. I told him that it was for the mac and cheese, thinking that would be the end of him wanting it.

Imagine my surprise when I was dishing out the mac and cheese for myself and asked if he could try some! He thought that since it had garlic in it, he might like it. I let him try a bite and he thought it was good. He asked to try another bite, and he decided to get his own bowl, then he went back for seconds!!!

Lee said he likes the light garlic flavor in it and thinks that it is more creamy and less cheesy tasting than the others that I've tried. I won't argue with him if it got him liking mac and cheese!!!

Oh, happy day!!!

The Mac and Cheese that Won (aka Quick Macaroni and Cheese)

10 ounces uncooked macaroni
1½ tbsp butter
1 clove garlic
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1½ cups (1 can) evaporated milk
1 cup white extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese

  1. In a pot of boiling water, add salt and uncooked macaroni. Cook until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan.
  3. Mince garlic and add to melted butter, along with cayenne pepper.
  4. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add flour and cook for one minute more.
  6. Add evaporated milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, shred the cheeses.
  8. Add cheeses to milk and melt.
  9. Drain the macaroni and add to the cheese mixture.
  10. Allow to sit on a cool surface to thicken for about 5 minutes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Tamales!

The tamales were due to be posted on August 27, but I had a rough week and wasn't able to get it done in time. At least I'm still making them, since I was really looking forward to this challenge!

I think that someone somewhere didn't want me to do this challenge. I wanted to make this while at my grandfather's cottage, like I did the eclairs, but my very picky eater father nixed that. Turns out I might not have been able to do them up there anyway as I couldn't find the corn husks. I completely forgot about banana leaves, but didn't see them anyway. I was going to spend the weekend before posting day doing an even wider search for corn husks, but I had some family stuff come up. I'm lucky to have some great people in the Recipes to Rival group and both Meg and Jen offered to send me some corn husks as they had loads extra.

Anyway, I finally go around to making the tamales today. It's definitely a project for the weekend or a holiday, unless you prep for several days in advance. I can completely understand why this is a traditional Christmas dish in Mexico.

The first step I did was to prepare some stock for the batter. I made a large vat of veggie stock (well, I used veggie bullion) and divided that into three parts for an ancho chile (smoked poblano) stock, chipotle (smoked red jalapeño) stock, and left one plain vegetable. All I did for the chile stocks was to take one dried pepper of each type and place it in three cups stock. I let it simmer until the chile was rehydrated and the flavor was infused in the stock.

I just love the ancho chile flavor and I wanted to have that flavor in other parts of the tamales. I made the bell pepper compote from a pork recipe I like, the rice and chili from the Southwestern Chili Lasagna, and a variation of the bean recipe from Debyi, our wonderful host this month. Since I haven't posted the bell pepper compote before, and I didn't use the bean recipe as written, I'll put those recipes later on in the post.

Since Lee had the car today, and I just wasn't thinking before today, I made a list for him to buy some ingredients for the fillings while he was at work today. He came home on his break today with the ingredients, so I couldn't get started until after 1:00.

First, got started on the chili. Usually, Lee is guilty of buying too much food, so I didn't even think that he would buy less than 2lbs. ground beef. I guess I should have thought of that. I ended up texting him to bring home some more ground beef when he came home from work. I got the rest of the chili started and allowed it to simmer, figuring it was better to get most of it ready while waiting on the other pound.

Next, I made the bean mix. I had some dried pinto beans in the cupboard, so I soaked those overnight. The recipe called for shredded carrots, and my box grater hadn't been cleaned since I used it to grate my Lush bubble bath, so I ended up just using my vegetable peeler to get thin shreds of carrot.

I was ready for the part where I am supposed to toast some coriander seeds (the seeds of a cilantro plant) and cumin seeds. I didn't have any cumin seeds, so I just toasted some coriander seeds. Well, I THOUGHT I didn't have any cumin seeds, but as I was making the bell-pepper compote, I found a jar of cumin seeds right front and center of my spices. Oops!!

The bell pepper compote and the rice went off without a hitch and were quickly finished.

Now it was time to fill the tamales. I had soaked the corn husks, and I divided the batter into batches. I used 3 cups masa, 1 cup shortening, and 3 cups stock to make each type of batter. I couldn't really taste much for the ancho chile dough, but once I made the chipotle dough, I could notice a big difference in flavor.

Lee helped out with putting the tamales together. He spread the masa on the husks while I filled and folded them. Spreading the masa on the husks was a bit frustrating for us. Neither one of us had eaten, nevermind made tamales before and had no clue how thick to spread the masa batter. I know other rivalers had problems with too much masa and I wanted to avoid that problem, but didn't want it spread too thinly either.

I didn't have a steamer big enough for the job. Actually, my steamer doesn't even really fit any of my pots, so I really have to be careful what I put in it. I knew tamales wouldn't work because they would be too heavy and would fall over. I was reading blogs and Lan had mentioned fashioning a steamer out of a colander and a large pot. I decided to go that route. I also read Temperance mention putting some stock as her liquid for steaming. I decided to use some of my vegetable bullion in the water for my steaming liquid. One last precaution for avoiding the dry tamales some people complained about was to take a tip from a site I visited (can't remember which, but it wasn't someone from R2R). I took my baster and squirted some of the plain vegetable stock into each tamale to keep them moist.

Since we had too many tamales to steam at once, I steamed the batch with the ancho chile batter first. While that was steaming, I made the chipotle batter and Lee and I assembled those ones.

I didn't realize how many corn husks were in one packet! We ended up with 24 tamales and we barely made a dent in the package of corn husks. We also only made about 2/3 of the total batter. I'm glad I had reduced the portions of the fillings because we would have run out of room in our freezer!

We ate a couple for dinner tonight and I plan to have some for lunch tomorrow, but there are just too many to eat in one week, so we'll freeze the leftovers. To reheat from the freezer, defrost and steam in a microwave oven or wrap in foil with some moist paper towel and heat at 350°F.

We didn't have any problem with dryness, but ended up not being too thrilled with them. We didn't like the masa. I'll eat up what we have, but besides that, I don't know if I'd make this again. They're a lot better with some sauce over the top. If I could figure out how to make the dough a lot thinner, it would be better, but I think we made the dough as thin as possible.

Although we didn't end up liking these as much as we'd hoped, I'm really glad I made them since I've always wondered how they would taste.

Tamales Made:

  1. chipotle batter with bell pepper compote
  2. chipotle batter with pinto bean filling
  3. ancho batter with rice filling
  4. ancho batter with chili filling
  5. ancho bater with chili and rice filling

See the Recipes to Rival Blog for the official recipe.

Bell Pepper Compote

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon Mexican oregano 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

  1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Add peppers and onion.
  3. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients.
  5. Cook until vegetables are soft, but not brown, and the balsamic vinegar scent has dissipated and flavors come together.
Pinto Bean Chipotle Filling 8 oz. pinto beans, rinsed 1/8 cup of shredded carrot 1/8 red onion, minced 1 cloves garlic, minced 1/8 tsp. chipotle powder 1/8 tbsp. ancho chile powder 1/8 tsp. whole cumin seeds 1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds pinch of salt 1 tsp. of olive oil Option: 1 cup of soy chorizo
  1. Shred the carrot.
  2. Mince the onion and garlic.
  3. Rinse the beans.
  4. Combine all of these together in a bowl.
  5. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds on a medium heat in the 1 tsp. of oil until the coriander seeds start to pop or the cumin seeds turn a deep brown color, whichever comes first.
  6. Mix the chipotle powder, ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, and salt together.
  7. Toss this into the veggie mix.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Daring Bakers: Eclairs

This month's challenge was hosted by Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey? and Tony of A Warm Welcome. They chose to have us make eclairs this month. I was going away with my family for a vacation at the beginning of the month and thought it would be a great idea to make it while there since there would be more people to help eat them. Lee and I end up eating to many when I make the challenges at home.

I've never really been fond of eclairs, nor have I ever made them. My family was excited for eclairs, though. We were given the choice of flavoring, as long as we kept one chocolate element of the dish. My dad chose to have a vanilla flavored filling with the chocolate glaze instead of the chocolate pastry cream. I have heard other Daring Bakers say that the chocolate pastry cream was delicious, so part of me was disappointed that I didn't make it!

I made this while at my grandfather's cottage in New Hampshire. Since he rents out the cottage, they don't have the best cookware. People tend to take nice things in rental properties. I don't understand that, but it's a sad fact. Unfortunately, that meant I had to make these without modern conveniences such as my Kitchen Aid.

I was a bit nervous when I read the directions and it said you could make the batter for the eclairs by hand "if your arms aren't too tired" since I had no choice but to mix by hand, but it wasn't bad.

I didn't have any pastry tips with me. I had already left my house before the recipe was announced, so I didn't know I would want to bring them. I just used a plastic Ziploc bag with a hole clipped out.

My eclairs worked out ok, but one sheet of eclairs deflated. This was a pretty common problem with some Daring Bakers and I think it was due to steam.

Both my glaze and pastry cream turned out well. I wasn't able to spread my glaze with a spatula like the directions said, so I just used a spoon to pour it over the top of the eclairs.

The pastry cream ended up being a group effort! My grandfather's cottage didn't have any electric mixers, so I had to use a rotary beater. Actually, my dad and sister's boyfriend had to use a rotary beater to beat the whipped cream (Lee wasn't able to come up for the vacation). I thought we were going to have to use a whisk, so my dad and sister's boyfriend were happier to use the rotary beater that we found. It didn't actually take them all that long. I did chill the bowl down in the fridge for a while before whipping the cream, though.

Everyone loved the eclairs and I loved that I was able to be creative with my picture taking! I didn't take pictures of the process, but I did take a picture of the eclairs on a lily pad. I had been planning all week to take a picture of them on the lily pads. Unfortunately, none of the pink flowers close enough to shore were blooming when I took the picture, but I'm pretty pleased with this one. When I showed the picture to Lee, he started to ask if the picture was photoshopped before he realized he was looking at it in the camera!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Southwestern Chili Lasagna

So, this morning I was browsing a forum I frequent. There is a thread where people can post what they made for dinner and I like to read that to get ideas since my knowledge of different meals is still small. One lady made a post about a blog she loves and that she was trying the Mexican lasagna recipe from that site for dinner.

I posted last week that I was going to try making meals that take a while on Sundays since it's usually a lazy day and I tend to be home all day. I asked Lee what he wanted and eventually he decided upon lasagna.

Well, after hearing about the Mexican lasagna, I thought I would try that. I didn't see the Mexican lasagna on that site, so I decided to come up with my own creation. I thought that flour tortillas would work instead of the noodles and that chili would work in place of the tomato sauce and ground meat. I figured a Mexican cheese blend would be good for the cheese layer.

I got to work on my chili for the recipe since it needed to simmer. I was glad I had decided to buy some nice ground peppers from Penzeys. (Well, I actually bought some whole ancho chiles and whole chipotle peppers as well, but decided it would be easier to use the ground for this purpose.) I love the ancho chile flavor, so I decided to use some of that in my chili. I also added some chipotle pepper. Ancho chiles are smoked purple poblanos, and chipotles are smoked red jalapeños. Add some smoked Spanish paprika (smoked red bell pepper) and I had a great smoky taste with my chili!

I was eventually directed to the post about the Mexican lasagna, but by that time I had already started my own version, so I just took the idea of adding some rice to the lasagna to add another layer of texture to the dish. I'm so glad I saw that post and added the rice! It would still have tasted good, but it tasted more complete and well-rounded with the addition of rice.

I ended up using the same peppers in my rice that I did in my chili. I thought it would be best for making the rice and chili blend well together, plus I like those flavors anyway. When Lee first tried a bite of the rice on its own, he said "Oh, wow! First you taste the rice, then you get some heat from the peppers, then there is a smoky flavor!" Yes, my dear, that's the smoked peppers! The rice had nice flavor from the Basmati rice (it was recommended in the blog post for the nice flavor and texture and I have to agree). I think it was the sensation of the flavors coming in waves that he thought was so cool.

Since I was making up my own recipe (although basing proportions of ingredients on recipes I found online since I'm not very comfortable being completely on my own with this), I wanted to make sure that the rice and chili each tasted good on their own. I figured if they taste good on their own, they would taste great together. Turns out I was right and now I have a great recipe for chili and a great recipe for Mexican rice!

This had a mellow heat to it. I wouldn't describe it as spicy. If you want spicy, add some more chipotle or add some cayenne pepper to it. Ancho chile doesn't have much heat to it, so it wouldn't do much for added spiciness.

Only problem with this was I couldn't think of an appropriate side dish. Any suggestions are welcome!

What started out as an improvisation is now a new favorite in our house!

Southwestern Chili Lasagna

For the chili:
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

2 lbs ground beef

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon
chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper

For the rice:
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups
chicken stock
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup
diced onion
1 garlic clove
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon
dried chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika

For the assembly:
4 large flour tortillas
Mexican cheese blend
cilantro (for garnish)

  1. For the chili:
  2. Dice the medium onion.
  3. Cook in a 8qt. pot over medium heat.
  4. Dice 2 cloves garlic and add to onions.
  5. Add ground beef and cook until browned.
  6. Drain out most of the fat.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients for the chili. Simmer on stove for several hours or until all the flavors have come together.
  8. For the rice:
  9. Rinse rice to remove excess starch. Add to pot with the chicken stock.
  10. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce to simmer until all the stock has been absorbed.
  11. Remove from heat.
  12. Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat.
  13. Add 1 cup diced onion, Rotel, and 1 clove minced garlic. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir together.
  14. Cook until onion and garlic are tender.
  15. Add to tomato mixture to the rice by fluffing with a fork until it is evenly incorporated.
  16. For the lasagna (I made an 8x4" lasagna):
  17. Ladle a thin layer of the chili on the bottom of your pan.
  18. Trim the rounded edges off the tortillas and cut into strips. Create a layer of tortilla strips in the pan.
  19. Scoop about 1-2 cups rice and spread in even layer over tortillas.
  20. Spread about 2 cups chili over rice.
  1. Sprinkle to cover with cheese.
  2. Repeat until you are within 1/2" of the top of your pan. Leave the cheese as the last later.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro.
  4. Spray aluminum foil with non-stick spray and bake in a 350°F oven for about 1/2 hour. Remove foil and cook until cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Meatloaf and Ratatouille

Tonight was a scrumptious dinner. Since Lee and I share a car right now and he works all day on Sunday and takes the car, I'm usually at home all day. I've decided to use Sundays to make some of those more special dinners that take longer to make (lasagna, roast dinner, etc...).

Today I chose to make meatloaf and ratatouille. It was kind of a repeat from when Lee's family came to visit a couple of weeks ago. I didn't take a picture of it then, but it worked out because today I was actually able to make it better!

Since I raved so much about the ratatouille when I made it for Recipes to Rival, how could it be better, you ask?

Well, I made it with mostly farm-fresh ingredients. I've fallen in love with the farmer's market. I wish I lived in an area that had one year-round, but they end here in October. Also, it won't be as easy to get to it now that school's starting back up because the market is only there from 9:30-2.

This past week I managed to find Japanese eggplant at the farmer's market! There is an Asian family that has a farm and they go to the farmer's market on Wednesdays and Fridays. They have some great Asian ingredients that maybe harder to find. Of course, when I saw the Japanese eggplant, I knew I HAD to make ratatouille again with the proper ingredients! Well, not only was I able to get the eggplant at the farmer's market, there was yellow squash and zucchini that were the same diameter as the eggplant (bonus!!!!) and there were Roma tomatoes! I bought fresh-picked onions and had some fresh garlic as well. I'm not sure the eggplant made a big difference, but the freshness of the ingredients certainly made a HUGE difference in the taste.

The meatloaf was incredible! I first made this meatloaf when Lee's family came. I love Tyler Florence and have had his cookbook Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen for years. I have loved the recipes I've tried. He is all about fresh ingredients and making amazing food simple. This recipe is a variation of his father's meatloaf, so it's called "Dad's Meatloaf with Tomato Relish."

Mr. Florence was trying to be sneaky!!! The day before Lee's family came, I was watching Tyler's Ultimate and it happened to be an episode that featured his meatloaf recipe. Well, he changed the recipe since my cookbook was published! In the cookbook, he uses just ground beef for the meat. In the show he used ½ ground pork and ½ ground beef. Also, instead of using plain breadcrumbs, he says to use 3 slices of bread soaked in milk. He mentioned he learned that trick in Italy while learning to make meatballs and he has started doing that in all the meatballs and meatloaves he makes.

Now, Tyler's recipes was fantastic as it was. In fact, in the book he says it was one of the biggest hits of the Cafeteria Restaurant in New York where he was the chef. The problem I had was the amount of liquid that seeped from the meatloaf while it cooked. I don't have a loaf pan (well, I have one, but it's 16" long and I thought that was a bit much for the meatloaf!), so I layed it out on a sheet pan. I watched Tyler do that on his show, and his meatloaf turned out fine, so I felt confident in doing it that way myself.

My meatloaf turned out flat. Luckily meatloaf isn't big in England and his family didn't know better. It also still tasted fantastic, but I knew it wasn't as it should have been.

I ended up making the recipe a little bit differently today. Instead of using all milk-soaked bread crumbs, I used half-soaked and half-unsoaked. The recipe called for white bread crumbs, I made a special effort to get white bread last time, but this time I just used the wheat I had on hand and it was fine. I actually think the stronger wheat bread was better. I also rigged the pan a little differently. I pulled up the aluminum foil to make a pocket for the meatloaf and mounded the meatloaf a little higher than I had before.

These precautions worked great and the meatloaf had perfect shape after cooking. The unsoaked breadcrumbs helped a lot with the moisture of the meatloaf. It still had plenty of moisture, but it didn't leak as much as it had the first time.

One of the best parts of this meal? Mashed potatoes are always a must with meatloaf, but the ratatouille really complements the tomato-pepper relish. The flavors just match so well.

You can get the recipe for the ratatouille from clicking on the link above, but here is the recipe (as I made it) for the meatloaf. Since I changed it from Tyler's I'm not using the "Dad's" part of the name, since my dad would certainly never make anything with onions!

Meatloaf with Tomato-Pepper Relish
Serves 4

For the Relish:
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 red bell pepper
1 tomato
3 tbsp dried parsley flakes
6 ounces ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

For the Meatloaf:
1-1.25 lbs. mealoaf mix (ground beef, ground pork, ground veal)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 slice bread
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 strips bacon

  1. Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and bay leaf until onions start to become transluscent.
  2. Core, seed, and finely dice the red bell pepper. Toss in skillet.
  3. Take tomato and slice in half, remove the seeds and core. Finely dice the tomato and add to skillet.
  4. Add in the parsley, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Give a good stir and cook for about 5 minutes, or until flavors mix.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Remove 3/4 cup of the relish and set aside in measuring cup or small bowl to cool a bit.
  7. In a small bowl, place a slice of bread and pour just enough milk in for the bread to soak it up.
  8. In a separate bowl, combine the meat, egg, thyme and 3/4 cup tomato-pepper relish (as long as it's cool enough for your hands to touch it, go ahead and add it). Be careful to lightly blend with hands, don't smash.
  9. Remove the bread from milk, drain any excess. Break the bread slice into pieces and add to mix. Slowly add in dried bread crumbs until there is just enough for soaking up moisture.
  10. Place meatloaf in loaf pan, or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Form into a loaf shape. Lightly press top of loaf to make a smooth, flatter surface.
  11. Spoon 1/4 cup tomato-pepper relish over the top.
  12. Lay the 2 strips bacon lengthwise over meatloaf.
  13. Place in oven and cook for 45-60 minutes or until bacon is crisp and the meatloaf is fully cooked.
  14. Heat up remaining tomato-pepper relish and serve over the meatloaf.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Favorite Blueberry Muffins

Lee and I went blueberry picking at the beginning of blueberry season. I used some of the blueberries to make muffins, but forgot to post about it!

On Wednesday, Lee and I did some more blueberry picking (we picked some raspberries as well, but that's another post) I made them again today so I decided to post about it.

Well, these muffins were amazing , I couldn't get enough!

The first time I made these muffins, I hadn't yet been to Penzeys to get spices. Well, I am now officially in love with Penzeys' spices (must go to special spice stores from now on!!!) and decided to use one of the three types of cinnamon I bought there. I went with the Korintje Cassia cinnamon. Also, because Penzeys' spices are so much fresher than the supermarket spices and have much more scent and flavor to them, I used a little less cinnamon.

There are two main types of cinnamon [Cassia and Ceylon "true" cinnamon (I'll post more when I make something with it)], but there are several variations within the cassia cinnamon family, each tasting different depending on where it was grown. I went with the Korintje Cassia cinnamon because it has the mildest flavor out of the three Cassia cinnamons. (Chinese and Vietmanese are the other types Penzeys carries.) I didn't want the cinnamon to be the star of the show, just add a bit of flavor.

I used the basic recipe from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I remembered learning that vanilla can help bring out flavors in fruit dishes, and remembered how delicious the apple filling for the Daring Bakers danish challenge was and decided to add some vanilla.

I made some vanilla sugar with my vanilla beans and added that to the mix. The vanilla sugar was really easy to make.

Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise, per 2 cups sugar.

Allow to infuse for a week.

I used one Bourbon and one Tahitian bean and shook this once a day to help mix it up well.

Blueberry Muffins

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of Korintje Cassia cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray, or line with paper cups.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Make a well in the center.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, milk, and egg.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients.
  6. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, mix until just blended. Be sure to fold and mix gently, do not beat.
  7. Carefully mix in blueberries at the last minute.
  8. Spoon into muffin pans.
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on size of muffins.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers: No Go

Unfortunately, I didn't get to do the Daring Baker's Challenge this month. With work, a conference for work, and Lee's parents coming over for a week and half I just couldn't get it done. Right now I'm getting ready to go on a vacation with my family. I hope to see the other DBers posts a bit today and when I come back.

I look forward to next month's challenge!

You can check out the Daring Bakers who made some fabulous cakes this month by clicking on the blogroll on the sidebar.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Thank George's Bank

This month I was able to co-host the challenge for Recipes to Rival with Lori from Lipsmacking Goodness. We made Thank George's Bank from The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook. I had bought this cookbook a few years ago on a trip to the Vineyard and have tried several of their dinner recipes with great success, but had never tried one of their breakfast ones. I wasn't sure how many people would think of a challenging breakfast recipe for their turns to host, so I thought a breakfast recipe would be a good choice.

Since so many people only really have time on the weekends for a cooked breakfast, I think many people, including myself, made this for a brinner (breakfast for dinner) to complete the challenge. I was glad I made this for dinner rather than a brunch or breakfast, it took a lot longer than I thought it would to make! It wasn't that the recipe itself is a long, involved recipe, it would actually be a great special occasion brunch or breakfast, it's that I had a few problems.

The recipe for the fishcakes is pretty runny. I tried forming patties and ended up with this:

I found that using a ladle to pour the batter onto the non-stick skillet and cooking them like pancakes (the American kind, not English) did the trick.

I then moved on to poaching eggs. I have never poached eggs before and was so scared! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I tried both cracking the egg right over the water and dropping it in, then cracking the egg into a bowl and pour it from the bowl into the pan, but that worked about the same. Jeanette of Cooked from the Heart mentioned cracking the egg into a ladle and allowing it to begin to set before pouring it into the liquid helped prevent feathering and Temperance of High on the Hog mentioned using muffin tins to create a hot water bath and cooking them in the oven (she recommended 350°F) for cooking larger batches. I think I would use large muffin tins for this, I'd worry about the smaller ones. I'll have to give each of these a try. The only problem with the muffin tins would be how to get them out....I used a fine mesh skimmer to get my eggs out of the pot, but I guess a slotted spoon would work for the muffin tins?

When melting the butter, I put it in a plastic container and it popped and the butter sprayed over the whole microwave!! It was a mess to clean up (sorry, not the best picture, eggs and fishcakes were done and all I had to do was hollandaise sauce and was ready to just be done with it all!!!).

We both really liked this dish. I'd love to make it again for guests.

Black Dog Fishcakes

(this says 4 patties, but even with wasting a lot on mistakes, I still got 6. I think this more closely yields 12)

These fishcakes are a popular Black Dog alternative to bacon or sausage. These are excellent for using up leftover potatoes!
2 cups cooked potatoes, mashed
1 pound skinless and boneless codfish
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, beaten
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons butter

1. If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, peel and dice two large potatoes. Boil in salted water for about 20 minutes or until soft. Mash and set aside.
2. Place fish in a steamer, cover with diced onion and seasonings. Cover and steam for 10-15 minutes or until the onion is cooked.
3. In a medium bowl, combine cooked fish and seasoned onions with the mashed potatoes. Mix in the egg and cream, divide into four patties.
4. Sauté the fishcakes in a sauté pan in butter over medium heat until browned.

Easy Hollandaise Sauce
(yields ½ cup)

2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ pound (1 stick) butter, melted
splash Tabasco sauce
dash cayenne pepper
dash salt
1. Combine egg yolks and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the melted butter.
3. Allow to run until the sauce emulsifies.
4. Add Tabasco, salt, and cayenne pepper.

Alternately, you may use this hollandaise sauce from The Joy of Cooking (yields 1 cup) (for those without a food processor):

10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter
3 large egg yolks
1½ tbsp cold water
½-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
dash of hot pepper sauce
salt and white pepper to taste
1. Over low heat, melt the butter.
2. Skim the foam off the top and keep warm.
3. In a double boiler (or a bowl on top of a saucepan), place the egg yolks and water.
4. Off the heat, beat the yolks with a whisk until they are light and frothy.
5. Place on top of saucepan or double boiler and whisk continuously until eggs are thickened, 3-5 minutes, making sure the eggs don't get too hot.
6. Pour into a separate bowl to cool, and while whisking continuously, slowly add the butter, omitting the milk solids.
7. Whisk in the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, salt, and white pepper.
8. If sauce is too thick, add a few drops warm water.
9. Serve immediately or you can keep it warm up to 30 minutes by placing the bowl in warm water.

Thank George’s Bank
(serves 2)

4 Black Dog Fishcakes
2 teaspoons white vinegar
4 eggs for poaching
½ cup hollandaise sauce
toast or breakfast bread of choice
1. Prepare fishcakes and hollandaise sauce.
2. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add white vinegar and reduce the heat to a simmer.
3. Crack and gently drop in the eggs.
4. Simmer about 3-5 minutes or until whites are firm and yolks are done to your likes.
5. To serve: place each poached egg on a fishcake, cover with hollandaise sauce. Serve with your favorite breakfast sides.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chicken with Apples

I've had pork with apples before, but for this Zaar World Tour recipe, I tried chicken with apples. I'd never heard of doing that before!

This was a recipe for Eastern Europe. I'm not quite sure what makes this Eastern European, but it was delicious anyway. This would make an excellent weeknight meal in the winter. It's warming and comforting (may be where the Eastern European comes in with cold winters?) and it's very quick, only taking about ½ hour from start to finish!

I had Fuji apples leftover from doing the Daring Bakers Danish, so I used those in this recipe. They also hold their shape well when cooked, so I didn't have to worry about them getting mushy or looking more like apple sauce than apples.

I've said before how much I love vanilla beans now. I learned I love vanilla beans with apples. I think next time I try this, I'll see how it does with some vanilla bean and cinnamon. I'll let you know how it goes!

I'm posting the recipe how I made it. I kept the sauce the original measurement, because we love saucy things. I didn't peel the apples and it tasted great. If you'd rather peel, by all means do! You can make this look Christmasy by using 1 red apple and one Granny Smith. You can view the original at Recipezaar.

Chicken with Apples

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cooking apple
¼ cup butter, divided in half
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup apple juice
1 teaspoon thyme

  1. In a sauté pan, melt half the butter and pan fry the chicken breasts.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, peel (if you want), core, and slice the apple into 16 slices.
  3. When chicken is brown and done cooking, remove from pan and cover with aluminum foil. Set aside.
  4. In the same pan you used to cook the chicken, add the remaining butter, apples, and thyme.
  5. Cook apples until tender. If using a firm apple like Fuji, it will still retain its shape.
  6. Place apples on top of chicken, recover to keep warm, and return pan to heat.
  7. Deglaze the pan with the juice.
  8. Add the cream and cook until slightly thickened.
  9. Serve with the cream sauce poured over the chicken and apples. (I also put the chicken on top of a bed of rice and the sauce was delicious with that as well!!)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Stardust Chocolate Pancakes

I've mentioned the Zaar World Tour before. It's winding down, but I haven't been good about posting some of the recipes I've been making.

For the Germany/Benelux region, I found this recipe for Stardust Chocolate Pancakes. I'm not sure how authentic these are, but they were the cookbook for that region and I enjoyed them!

I made these one morning while Lee was at work. He's not a big fan of chocolate at breakfast, while I love me some chocolate chip pancakes or waffles!

These were delicious, but so sweet that I felt finished after eating just one and a half. After eating them, I think they are good for either a kid's breakfast or a dessert pancake. I think they are too rich for most adults' breakfast tastes!

These won't go well with maple syrup. I served these with a dusting of powdered sugar (hence the "stardust" part of the name).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Ratatouille

The Daring Bakers have been doing a lot of sweet challenges lately. My tastebuds love it, but not so much my waistline. A few people started talking about wanting to do savory challenges too, so Lori of Lipsmacking Goodness and Temperance of High on the Hog decided to found Recipes to Rival. Like the Daring Bakers, Recipes to Rival is a group of people cooking the same recipe to see how they turn out. The difference is that Recipes to Rival is going to be meals, while The Daring Bakers is, of course, baking. I love both groups, so I plan to do both each month. For more information, you can click on the link in the sidebar.

Our first challenge would make Remy proud. Remy who? The one and only rat of Ratatouille!!

That's right, we all chanted "Anyone can cook" and worked on figuring out how to find Japanese eggplant (never could, had to use baby eggplant) and slice the vegetables 1/16th of an inch thick [(went out to buy a mandoline) say it with me, "any excuse to buy a new kitchen toy"]. ;-)

Of course, you can't make ratatouille without watching Ratatouille, so I put the DVD in the DVD player and got to work (it takes longer to make the dish than to watch the movie, so I ended up playing it twice). One thing that I realized was that at the end of the movie, Remy makes this dish for Anton Ego. He only decides to make it as Mr. Ego arrives at the restaurant. Unless Anton Ego waited for 2½ hours for his meal, there is no way Remy could have done this in time...movies are just so unrealistic sometimes! I am so disappointed! ;-)

The recipe calls for peeled, diced tomatoes. I just opened up a can. I didn't read that part of the directions ahead of time and it was too late to do the tomatoes any other way.

Is it strange that I love to roast and peel peppers? I think it's so cool how they just slip right off the skin once roasted. I also love the smell. I love bell peppers. Bell peppers and vanilla beans, I wonder what I could do with that....

Anyway, slicing the vegetables wasn't too bad with the mandoline, except for the eggplant. I found that didn't slice very well with the mandoline, so I just used a knife for that.

Now, I can't figure out how to plate the ratatouille very prettily, but I must say this is the best vegetable dish I have ever had! We ate the whole thing the first night, then I made a double recipe again the next day since it was so delicious! I served this with a roll, and pork chops roasted with the other half of the peppers, onion, and some garlic. Lee actually asked to go vegetarian because of this dish...after just buying a bunch of meat on sale at the store...not sure how that's going to work out. We both just couldn't get enough of this fabulous dish!

I must say, I never would have made ratatouille if it wasn't for joining Recipes to Rival. I must also say that although it's time consuming, this isn't really a difficult dish to make, but it looks impressive and I can't imagine anyone not liking it. It is full of flavor!! It's the perfect complement to a roast dinner.

For the recipe, you can visit the Recipes to Rival page and also visit all the other dishes from other Rivalers. You can see more information about Ratatouille and how they made the food look so realistic by visiting the Revolution Health website.

Here are some pictures, I only have three of this challenge, so I didn't do a slideshow.

Yes, my lovely Emerilware stainless steel pans are oven safe and broiler safe, so I was able to follow the recipe and use a skillet to cook it in. Too bad my hands just can't seem to remember to put on mitts when I put skillets in the oven. For some reason I always remember to get mitts for baking sheets, roasting pans, etc...but not skillets! I'm just so used to the handles of skillets not getting hot, I don't think "hot oven=hot skillet" and just stick those hands right in!


Luckily, I've never burned my hands badly, just a bit red, no blisters. I'm now making myself get into the habit of putting the mitts on my hands before even opening the oven door.

Look at the thinness of the vegetables! The mandoline made them paper-thin!!

Thanks, Remy, for showing us that a peasant dish can be fine cuisine!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Danish!

I was a bit intimidated when I saw what Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What's Cooking? chose for us, but that's the whole point of the Daring Bakers. I don't tend to like Danish, but I really think that's because they have all had cream cheese in them and I don't like cream cheese. I was excited to make a Danish that had a flavor I liked.

This Danish recipe called for orange in the dough. I wasn't sure how I would like that with my apple filling, but I went for it since it was in the recipe. Next time, I'll leave out the orange, it had a strong enough flavor that I didn't like it with the sweet fruit. Lee bought some bing cherries instead of maraschino cherries for ice cream, so I decided to use up the bing cherries for a second Danish.

My braids turned out pretty well, although not as nice as some others. I think most of us who tried a cherry filling ended up with a bit of a "cracked rib" look to our Danish, that one seemed to expand and spread apart the braid a lot more than other fillings. Someone mentioned it had to do with the liquid. I also think it may have been my layer of pastry cream that didn't allow the braid to stick together as well.

The trickiest part of this was the rolling. I made this on a day when it was 90°F outside!! I cranked the A/C and went for it. I had some butter popping out (definitely made a crackle sound as it popped out!) After the first turn it was fine and no more butter popped out. It wasn't as difficult to roll it out as I thought it would be.

The best part of this challenge? Discovering my love of real vanilla beans!!! Kelly mentioned seeing a blog where the person stated she bought vanilla beans off e-Bay. They are a lot less expensive than the grocery store and they are better quality too. I bought mine from The Organic Vanilla Bean Company. I ended up buying both Tahitian and Bourbon vanilla beans so I have loads on hand. The scent from the vanilla beans is incredible! It's such a clean, fresh scent.

The other best part of the challenge? The apple filling! This has got to be, hands down, the best apple filling I have ever tasted in my entire life. I could not stop eating it when it had cooked. It's apple crack. They're like Pringles, once you start you can't stop!!

As I said before, I made one apple filling, that was just the one from the recipe and one cherry. I found a cherry pie filling recipe from Recipezaar that I decided to try as well as a pastry cream recipe. The pastry cream used my new favorite ingredient: vanilla bean!

As I was talking about making the cherry filling, I mentioned I would need to buy a cherry pitter so I could pit the cherries. Lee thought I was just looking for an excuse to buy a new toy, but I told him no way was I picking cherry pits out of my mouth as I was eating a Danish. He didn't think they were too big. I beg to differ! The pitter definitely make it much easier to pit about 100 cherries!

The assembly wasn't too bad, I just had a bit of difficulty getting the first Danish onto the baking sheet because I didn't think to put my Silpat under it before assembling. I made sure to do my second one on top of parchment paper so it would be easier to transfer.

The Danish needed to proof for two hours. Lee and I went swimming while it was proofing and came back to find the power went out!! I couldn't cook dinner, and I couldn't cook the Danish. My Danish ended up getting a bit of an extra rise time. The Danish tasted just fine, though.

I'm not sure with all the time this takes if it is really worth making a lot, but maybe as a once in a while treat it would be good. I really like that I can make whatever fillings I want.

Here are some pictures in my first try making a slideshow! I hope it works. :-)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Maple Apple Crumble

I have a backlog of recipes I've made lately for the Zaar World Tour, but with the end of the school year and two friends having babies this week, and some personal things going on, I've been too busy to post! I'll get them all up eventually, because I've made some fabulous things I can't wait to share, but I'll start with last night's dessert: Maple Apple Crumble. A crumble is a less sweet version of a crisp. Some people say they are the same thing. I think the crust of a crisp is more sugary than the crust of a crumble.

This is a recipe I made for the Canada part of the Zaar World Tour. I wasn't very sure how much I'd like it because of the maple syrup. I was worried there would be too much of a maple taste, but it was delicious. It had just a hint of maple flavor. The only thing I would prefer is to have more cinnamon than the original recipe calls for. In my posted recipe I have increased the cinnamon and change the method a little.

Maple-Apple Crumble
Serves 4

2 fuji (or other tart cooking apples), peeled, cored, and diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
51g butter, softened
50g brown sugar, packed
42g all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
26g rolled oats
4 tablespoons maple syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Combine apples and cinnamon. Divide into 4 ramekins. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
  4. Add the flour, salt, and oats. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour one heaping teaspoon of maple syrup over apples in each ramekin.
  6. Cover each ramekin with 1/4 oat mixture.
  7. Place ramekins on baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
  8. You may serve with a scoop of ice cream, or go with Lee and have custard or cream!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hummus, Hummuses, Hummi???

Lee and I are trying to figure out what the plural of hummus is. We cannot figure it out. It's kind of necessary I do, because I made two recipes of hummus last night and want to blog about it!!!

Well, I made hummus last night for the Greek part of the Zaar World Tour. I made a regular hummus recipe and a roasted red pepper hummus.

I didn't mind the roasted red pepper hummus, although I can only eat a little bit at a time (I think it's the taste of the chick peas that take some getting used to), but I do not like the regular hummus. The regular hummus recipe took so much salt, that it was almost like eating salt water! I'm not sure if hummus is supposed to be that salty, but the roasted red pepper one didn't take much at all.

Since I have changed the idea behind my blog, I will only post the recipe I did like...the roasted red pepper hummus.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 can (15 ounces) chick peas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
1 cup roasted red pepper, deseeded, drained, and diced (or 1 red pepper)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup sour cream
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

  1. If using fresh red pepper, preheat broiler. Broil pepper until top is charred, turn, and char again. Repeat until all sides are charred. Cool.
  2. When red pepper is cooled, cut in half, deseed, and dice.
  3. Place chick peas in a food processor, process until smooth.
  4. Add the red pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sour cream, salt, and black pepper and process until smooth.
  5. Serve with pita, chips, crackers.
  6. Keep refrigerated.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Steamed Salmon with a Ginger/Soy Glaze

Tonight I made another recipe for the Zaar World Tour. I was making a recipe for the "Hot and Steamy" challenge. There was a recipe I found to be interesting called Steamed Salmon with Soy Glaze and I decided to make that last night.

There was one problem with that.

There recipe wasn't complete.

It was missing directions for the noodles and green beans.

I sent a message to the woman who posted the recipe and she let me know that she is trying to edit the recipe and get it fixed, but let me know how to complete the recipe. I didn't get the message until well after dinner last night. That wasn't much of a problem though because I just changed around my plans.

This was delicious!!! It is also low calorie, according to the nutrition facts on Recipezaar. This was pretty easy to make as well. The most difficult part was grating the ginger because it was so moist.

This is definitely a recipe I'll have to make again sometime!

Steamed Salmon with Soy Glaze

4 skinless salmon fillets, 6 oz. each
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons shredded ginger
2 tablespoons rice wine or sherry wine
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
1 (18 3/4 ounce) package soba noodles or 1 (1 lb) box whole wheat pasta
1/2 lb small green beans, sliced in half lengthwise
  1. Place the salmon in a shallow dish. Combine 3 t. of the soy sauce, the garlic, grated ginger, and 1 T. of the rice wine and pour over the salmon, turning to coat. Cover and marinade for 15 minutes in refrigerator (fish shouldn't be marinaded for much longer than that).
  2. Place the rice vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, the remaining soy sauce, and the remaining rice wine in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir, and when sugar is dissolved, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  3. Fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of salted water and bring to a boil. Remove the salmon from the marinade and place in a steamer basket over the pot. Sprinkle the scallions and shredded ginger over the salmon. Cover and steam over the boiling water for 4 minutes or until cooked through. Remove and keep warm.
  4. While the salmon is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook noodles to package directions. Add green beans to the noodles for about 3-4 minutes of boiling time.
  5. Drain the noodles, serve on a plate, topped with the salmon, and pour some glaze over the top.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sweet and Sour Pork with Pork Fried Rice

I'm participating in a cooking event on Recipezaar called Zaar World Tour 4. We are trying recipes from or inspired by various regions from around the world. Apparently we don't visit all regions for each tour, this time we are doing Asia (huge region, I'm surprised it isn't broken down more since there is so much variation), Germany and Benelux, Italy, Canada, Central and South America, Africa (except for the northern part), Eastern Europe, and Greece.

This week we are working on Asia and Germany and Benelux. Italy is a Wild Card that we can do until the end of the game.

On Saturday night, I did my first recipe, we have until June 5th to complete it, but apparently starting on Saturday was a bit later than we were supposed to do. I wasn't happy about that, I figured that as long as it was done by the 5th it was no big deal. I digress....

I decided to start with an Asian dish. I had Pork defrosting, so decided to make pork fried rice and Lee said he wanted Sweet and Sour Pork Balls to go with it. I didn't feel like getting any ground pork, so I found a recipe for regular Sweet and Sour Pork and did that.

These recipes turned out pretty well. I would prefer the Sweet and Sour Pork without the pepper, but Lee loved it and I had to make extra for him to eat with some of the leftover rice. I added some extra soy sauce to the rice to give it a bit more flavour.

This recipe I used makes A LOT of rice!!! Apparently it wasn't too much for Lee because I realized today there isn't any more rice left. Lee ate it all!

I am so happy that I made Chinese food! I always think of this stuff as food I can never make myself, but apparently that's not true!


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