Friday, December 4, 2009

I {Heart} Faces - Fix-it Friday

I stumbled across this wonderful website today and decided to work with the photo for this week. Lots of fun. I did a lot of different tweaking, but I forgot to write down what I was doing! *blush* Anyway, here's the before and my after

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for much. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

Since there's just the 2 1/2 of us, I'm not cooking a large traditional feast. Instead, on my menu for this afternoon is Marinated Flank Steak, Homemade Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans, Deviled Eggs, and Pear Crisp with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I'll post everything this evening or tomorrow morning (depending on how gorged I am tonight!).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yummy Pasta

This is based on a recipe I found in Everyday by Rachel Ray a few months ago, but I changed it by adding the sauce - which totally makes the dish! I quite literally licked my plate (and the spoon, and the serving bowl :) ) clean. I'm totally looking forward to leftovers for lunch!

1 lb penne pasta
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
salt & freshly ground pepper
garlic powder and paprika (or other spices to taste)
8 T butter (the real stuff)
2 tsp rubbed sage
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 cup freshly grated Romano

Preheat oven to 400.

Lay the cauliflower on a baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and toss to coat. Lay the florets back out all nice and neat so they are touching but not overlapping.

Lightly salt and pepper. Sprinkle on garlic powder and about 2/3 as much paprika as garlic powder. (Take it easy on the garlic powder and paprika, they're just there for emphasis in this dish.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes until browned, but not burned.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, in a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the butter is golden-brown, about 6 minutes. (I don't have a heavy saucepan, so I had to cheat and stir the butter once or twice to keep it from burning around the edges. This, of course, disrupted the cooking process and made me cook it much longer.) Remove from heat and, after a minute, add the heavy cream and sage. Return to heat and simmer over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cheeses. (I'm not entirely certain on the amount of cheese. I used two large palmfuls of cheese, which I am estimating is 1 1/2 cup total. The sauce will still be a little runny, not overly cheesy/creamy. I also used more Romano than Parmesan because I prefer it's more subdued flavor. Remember that cooking, unlike baking, is not a precise science. There's always room for personal preference.) Do not stir the cheeses in, but rather let them sit for a bit. Stir it all together after a few minutes and toss with the hot, drained pasta. (I always add my pasta slowly to the sauce - I don't want too much pasta and not enough sauce!) Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fettuccine Alfredo, Roasted Cauliflower, and Pumpkin Muffins

That's what's on the menu for tonight. After a few weeks of being off the wagon, I'm jumping back on. It's a process. So anyway, check back later tonight for recipes!

Alright, here are the recipes.

Fettuccine Alfredo - Adapted slightly from this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

18 ounces fresh fettuccine
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups grated Parmesan
1 cup grated Romano
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Drain.

Stir 2 cups of the cream and the lemon juice in a heavy large skillet to blend. Add the butter and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the pasta and toss. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, and cheeses to the cream sauce in the skillet. Add the salt and pepper. Toss the pasta mixture over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

Roasted Cauliflower

This is very similar to my roasted asparagus recipe.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Rinse cauliflower and remove cut into small pieces.

Lay the cauliflower on a baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and toss to coat. Lay the florets back out all nice and neat so they are touching but not overlapping.

Lightly salt and pepper. Sprinkle on garlic powder and about 2/3 as much paprika as garlic powder.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until crisp-tender.

Pumpkin Muffins - from The Pioneer Woman

Muffin Ingredients:
1 cup All-purpose Flour
½ cups Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1-½ teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoons Ground Ginger
½ teaspoons Nutmeg
½ teaspoons Salt
4 Tablespoons Butter - Cut Into Pieces
1 cup (heaping) Pumpkin Puree
½ cups Evaporated Milk
1 whole Egg
1-½ teaspoon Vanilla
½ cups Golden Raisins (optional!)

2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoons Nutmeg

¼ cups Softened Butter
4 ounces, weight Cream Cheese
½ pounds Powdered Sugar
½ teaspoons Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 12 muffin tins.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until it is fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Add raisins. Fold gently until mixture is just combined.

Pour into a greased muffin pan—batter hardly ever fills all twelve unless you keep it down to 1/2 full. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg mixture over the top of each unbaked muffin.

Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Ice with cream cheese frosting.

To make the frosting, mix all ingredients on high until soft and whipped. Spread onto completely cooled muffins, or place into a large pastry bag with a large star tip and go crazy! Store in the fridge, as icing will soften at room temperature.

My note: I love these! I ate all 12 by myself! (*sheepish grin*) I left out the raisins. I meant to make the frosting (because it sounds so yummy!) but I simply devoured them too quickly to bother.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flank Steak & Buttercream Icing

And before you ask, no, not together. We invited a friend of Eli's over tonight for dinner. I tried a new recipe and finally perfected another. The menu consisted of Marinated Flank Steak, Roasted Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes, Chocolate Cake, and Tres Leches Cake. It was all very yummy. The steak and potatoes were new recipes to me. The potatoes were very good. Seriously, how can you mess up mashed potatoes? The steak was different. I think I liked it. I would certainly tweek the marinade recipe a bit next time. But we all agreed it tasted pretty good. I had the hardest time finding a grocery store in my area that carries flank steak. I actually had to drive 20 minutes north for it. But considering it was just over $10 and enough steak to feed three adults and a child, I'd say the drive was worth the deal. I homemade everything but the chocolate cake. My view on it is, when Betty Crocker has the perfect Chocolate Devil's Food cake from a box, why bother baking one from scratch? I have constantly fought with my buttercream icing over the years. It is at times too thick, too sugary, too...something. Anyway, tonight it was divine! Eli made the comment that it tasted like ice cream. The difference this time was the amount of sugar I used and the whipping cream I drizzled in at the end on a complete whim. The icing was a bit thin and I didn't want to add more sugar. I knew that adding the cream while the mixer was on such a high speed would make the cream thicken the icing. Anyway, here are the recipes.

Marinated Flank Steak (This was a hodge-podge of recipes I found online for flank steak)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup evoo
1/4 cup honey
2T sesame oil
1 1/2T Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2T ginger, minced

Mix together and add trimmed flank steak, coating well on both sides. Cover and let marinate 4+ hours.

When ready to grill, remove the steak from the fridge and let sit while you heat a grill pan over high heat. You want the pan to be really hot when you lay the steak on it. When the pan is hot enough, place the steak on the pan and leave for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Turn 45 degrees (for grill marks) and let cook another 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Flip and repeat on other side. It should cook 5-8 minutes total for medium rare. Be sure to turn on your exhaust fan (and open a door or window if you have an old fan like I do). Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Slice on an angle (for thicker slices) and against the grain to serve.

While cooking steak, pour marinade through a sieve and bring to boil in a small sauce pan over high heat. Let boil about 10 minutes until it reduces. Serve with steak as a dipping sauce.

(On a personal note, I added a lot more soy sauce and Worcestershire. The sesame oil is a very strong flavor. I think next time I will halve the amount of sesame oil and honey and then adjust for taste.)

Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs potatoes
2 sticks butter
1/4 cup sour cream

Peel and dice potatoes. Put in a pot and cover with enough water to come 1 inch above potatoes. Heat over high heat and boil until fork-tender. You want them nice and soft. Drain and place in mixing bowl. Add 2 sticks butter (I sliced it into pads) and sour cream. Mix well and beat on high speed. I let them do laps while I worked on other things, stirring them occasionally. The longer the potatoes do laps, the fluffier and creamier they are.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing
2 sticks butter, room temp or melted
5-8 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
heavy whipping cream

Add butter, 4 cups sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and milk to a large mixing bowl. Mix together on low speed first to avoid a cloud of powdered sugar, then cream on med-high speed. Add more powdered sugar by half-cupfuls until slightly thinner than desired consistency. (Mine was just thin enough to be a bit runny had I tried to ice with it.) Drizzle in a little heavy whipping cream (sorry, I didn't measure - it was probably about 1-2 Tablespoons) and cream until desired consistency is reached. Add more cream if necessary.

All-in-all a very good dinner. I think Mike will come back. :)
(Sorry for any typos...I'm too tired to proof.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken Scallopine and Blueberry Baked French Toast

Update on the Tres Leches cake: I decided not to make the icing. I was just too lazy to pull the mixer back out. And I'm rather glad I didn't. I've been slicing strawberries and laying them on top of the cake, and it's the perfect blend of sweet and tart. I love it! I've eaten half a cake all by myself! (Not that this is a bad thing by any means.) B and I even had cake and strawberries for breakfast yesterday. I figure it has all the same ingredients as french toast, give or take, and is therefore more nutritious than cereal. At least that's what I told myself as I was eating the cake. :)

So, last night I made Chicken Scallopine. No side, though. At least I made dinner. It was a relative success. I find myself wondering if my sauce isn't quite right because I'm substituting chicken broth for white wine. This is the second time I've made it and I find that it's just too runny. I'll have to experiment further to find the right mix of sauce ingredients. But it was well received. Eli liked the chicken. I never imagined he'd go anywhere near the scallopine part of the dish. Brayden tore up some chicken. And he ate the capers. Just the capers. Well, and the mushrooms. Although most of the mushrooms were consumed uncooked as I sliced them. I had to chase him off before he ate them all! I think next time I'll saute the mushrooms in butter before I add the other sauce ingredients. I love the taste that results when mushrooms and butter marry! I think it would add significantly to the dish. My favorite part of cooking this is pounding the chicken flat. You should have seen the look Eli gave me when he came into the kitchen to see what was going on! He thought I had lost my mind as he watched me go at the chicken with a hammer! (I don't have a meat mallet or a rolling pin, so I use the broad side of a hammer and it works great.)

I also prepped Blueberry Baked French Toast last night and cooked it this morning. I loved it, as usual. I've eaten half of it since this morning. Brayden liked it well enough, but I think I'll let him have plain ole cereal tomorrow. He just isn't liking these strange breakfast dishes as much, and as a result, he's getting cranky from low blood sugar and we have a bad morning. Anyway, love the French Toast. It's a bit unusual to make, but yummy! I love that the tartness of the blueberries keeps it from being overly sweet. Add some maple syrup and I'm in heaven. (BTW, I use about 3 times as many blueberries as the recipe calls for, which is 3 small boxes.)

Tonight is Savory Chicken Breasts. And B and I are making Forgotten Cookies for his teachers. You'll certainly want to come back for the cookie recipe! A family favorite for sure! (And I mean the ENTIRE family.)

Here are the recipes for the Chicken Scallopine and the French Toast:

PW’s Chicken Scallopine

1 pound linguine
6 boneless, skinless, trimmed chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
Chicken broth (optional)
1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream (can use half & half)
1 heaping tablespoon capers
chopped fresh Italian parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Flatten chicken breasts to uniform thickness. Salt and pepper both sides, then dredge in flour.
Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Throw mushrooms into the pan and stir. Immediately pour in wine, then squeeze juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon. Stir to deglaze the pan, then cook vigorously for 1 minute, until sauce reduces.
Pour in cream and stir, then add capers and parsley and stir. Turn off heat. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t undersalt!
Place pasta and chicken on a platter and top with every last drop of sauce. Generously sprinkle Parmesan Cheese over the top.

Blueberry Baked French Toast


1 Family Size Bag Stacy’s Pita Chips - Simply Naked

7 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

6 oz fresh blueberries (optional)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (use a little more)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter


Grease 9 x 13 inch baking pan with butter. Pour in bag of pita chips and arrange evenly.
In a bowl mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla.
Pour egg mixture over pita chips. Cover pan tightly with foil and place in refrigerator overnight, or at least six hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pan from refrigerator. Sprinkle blueberries over the top.

Mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Slice butter and add to bowl, then use pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture.

Sprinkle flour mixture over the blueberries and make sure it’s evenly distributed.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Chips on top should be crispy and crunchy.

Remove from oven and cut into squares. Drizzle with blueberry or maple syrup and serve warm.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tres Leches Cake

So, I went into the kitchen to start on the Chicken Scallopine for dinner and realized that I didn't have any chicken broth. So, instead, I did Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Pasta out of a box instead. But I did make a Tres Leches Cake. PW posted the recipe a couple days ago and I was dying to try it. It's a sponge cake soaked with a three-milk mixture. I've never made a cake from scratch, so this was interesting. I wish I had realized before I measured out the flour, baking soda, and salt that it is essentially self-rising flour - because I actually have self-rising flour in my pantry. (BTW, you can turn all-purpose flour into self-rising flour by adding 1 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt per 1 cup flour. Just in case you're ever baking and find you need to know.) So, as of right now the cake is baked, cooled, and soaked. Brayden loved helping pierce the cake before I soaked it. In fact, he started to get a little overzealous with the stabbing and I had to reign him in lest he destroy the cake. He then proceeded to scoop himself up a big chunk and eat it, whereby he declared it "yummy, tasty"! I haven't made the icing yet. But I did try a bite and it is rather yummy. Almost a little too sweet for me, though. I'm not a big sweet fiend. I think that with the icing (which is essentially whipped heavy cream) and some strawberry slices on top, the sweetness will be more manageable. I'll let you know how it works out. In the mean time, here's the recipe for Tres Leches cake as per PW.

Tres Leches Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk

1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Separate eggs.
Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla.
Pour egg yolk mixture over flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer on, pour in 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into other mixture very gently until just combined.
Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out surface.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/2 cup heavy cream in a small pitcher.
When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times.
Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes.
Whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.