Dec 16, 2013

Baked Eggs

This is a Nigella Lawson-inspired dish that couldn't be simpler, but it's also creamy and delicious. A quick and easy breakfast. Comfort food.

6 eggs
6 tablespoons cream
Salt (a pinch of each for each ramekin)
Dill weed (a pinch for each ramekin)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put a kettle or pan of water on the stove to boil. Brush six ramekins with butter. Crack one egg into each ramekin. Then add a tablespoon of cream and a pinch of salt and dill weed to each egg. Place ramekins in a baking dish and fill the baking dish with boiling water so that it reaches about halfway up the side of the ramekins. Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. After baking, carefully remove the ramekins from the baking dish. Serve warm with buttered toast.

Nov 24, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

While visiting a friend the other day, I noticed that she had made homemade marshmallows to be used as part of a hot chocolate bar for a wedding reception. She let me taste one, and it was yummy! So much better than what you buy in the store. Ever since that time, I haven't been able to get marshmallows off my mind. So I made them today, and it was easy, though I've always liked marshmallows. I used vanilla the first time, just to familiarize myself with the process. But in the coming days, I'm going to try different flavorings, like mint, chocolate, lemon, cinnamon, etc., plus some complementary colors. And I'm going to experiment with coatings such as chocolate, crushed cookies, crushed candy, etc. I see some potential Christmas gifts in this process. :-)

This recipe comes from Ina Garten and the Food Network.

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.

Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners' sugar.

Sep 28, 2013

Applesauce Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

This delicious muffin recipe comes from my friend Angie, who got it from Key Ingredient, which was submitted by Foodiewife F., who got it and adapted it from a friend's recipe blog. Sounds like a biblical genealogy of sorts. In any case, this recipe is a winner.

Topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Cake:
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
dash salt
2 eggs, beaten well
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all topping ingredients together by rubbing with fingers, set aside. In a large bowl, mix your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together your eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Add applesauce mixture to flour mixture, stir till wet. With an ice cream scoop, fill each each muffin well about 2/3 full. (You an also bake as a cake, or as smaller muffins). Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake at 350 F. for approximately 25 minutes.

Aug 25, 2013

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

This is an easy and delicious side dish. And the color is great.

12 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, then lay green beans (make sure they are dry) out on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss to evenly coat. Spread out on the sheet so that all the beans lay flat and place the pan in the lower third section of oven. After baking the beans for about 10 minutes, remove the pan from oven and shake it briefly to turn the beans, then return the pan to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Aug 4, 2013

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

I've taken a bit of a break from blogging the past few months and really haven't tried any new recipes for awhile. Work has been extra busy, and it has been the hottest summer on record here, which saps my energy to some extent for both cooking and blogging. But this is a terrific recipe to come back with. I tried buttermilk panna cotta (an Italian custard) at a local restaurant (Pizzeria 712) a month or two ago and fell in love with it. I relish the simplicity of the preparation and presentation, the creamy texture, and the pairing with fresh fruit. Now that I've tried it, I will make this again and again.

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan over low heat, combine the cream and sugar. Stir and allow to heat until about 90 degrees, or just warm to the touch. While mixture is heating, bloom the dry gelatin in cold water (meaning that you sprinkle the dry gelatin evenly over the water in a small cup and let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes so that the gelatin absorbs the liquid). Once the cream mixture is warm, add the bloomed gelatin and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and then add vanilla and buttermilk and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Pour the mixture into six or seven ramekins that have been sprayed lightly with cooking spray and chill at least 8 hours. Once cooled and set, serve with seasonal fruit of choice.

May 25, 2013

Chicken Asparagus Casserole

I know that casseroles like this are old fashioned and not particularly healthy because of the canned soups and the mayonnaise, but I made this on a nostalgic whim this past week, and I have to admit that I quite liked it. The asparagus, mushrooms, chicken and pasta worked well together. Very much comfort food. Also, I substituted fresh asparagus and fresh mushrooms for the canned versions, and that was a big plus. I don't know. It just hit the spot.

3 cups cooked and cubed or shredded chicken
2 cans cut green asparagus (I used fresh asparagus, which I steamed. Didn't really measure. At least the equivalent of two cans. Probably a bit more. Cut up into one-inch pieces)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can mushrooms, drained (again, I used fresh rather than canned. Probably about a cup and a half of sliced button mushrooms)
1 8-oz package egg noodles, cooked
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Combine first seven ingredients. Bake in a 9 x 13" pan for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Last 10 minutes of baking time, sprinkle 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup slivered almonds on top of the casserole.

Apr 29, 2013

Cinnamon No-Knead Bread

I've tried creating some variations on the wildly popular No-Knead bread from Sullivan Street Bakery and Jim Lahey. See here. But this is my favorite, no question. I still love the basic recipe, of course, but it is nice to have a slightly sweeter version. So delicious served warm with butter. It also makes fabulous toast or French toast.

4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rising yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup mini cinnamon chips (I purchased these at a local kitchen store)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A little less than 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water at about 70 degrees

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, salt, cinnamon chips, cinnamon, and sugar. Add the water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Put dough seam side down on floured work surface and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot in the oven while it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove heated pot from the oven. Gently move the ball of dough with your hands from your work surface and drop it into the pan. It may look like a mess, but that is okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Note: the cinnamon chips and sugar cause this bread to a little easier than regular no-knead bread, in my experience. So you'll need to keep an eye on the loaf once the lid is removed so that the bread doesn't get burned.

Apr 6, 2013

Chocolate and Caramel-Covered Pretzel Rods

The recipe for these addictive Chocolate and Caramel-Covered Pretzel Sticks comes from my friends Liza and Angie. They give them at Christmastime as gifts, and I've been a fortunate recipient. These are really, really good! Normally, I don't even like pretzels, but if they are dipped in caramel and chocolate, so you have the time-tested combination of salty and sweet tastes, then watch out!

With Liza's generous permission, I am using photos from her blog, along with some of the text, but I made a few changes based on my own experience in making these pretzel sticks.

1 12-ounce package Rold Gold Pretzel Rods (I think I ended up with about 30+ rods)
Dipping caramel (I used about half of a 5-pound package of Peter's Caramel that I purchased at a local cooking store)
A'peels dipping chocolates (I used a half bag each of milk chocolate for dipping and white chocolate for drizzling)

You can use any microwave-safe bowl to melt your caramel, but it helps to have a container that is somewhat narrow, that matches the length of the pretzel rods and that has straight sides. Like Liza and Angie, I used a mason jar. I cubed the caramel, put it the mason jar, and then microwaved the contents until the caramel was a suitable thickness for dipping (thin enough so that you get a coating but not so thin that all of the caramel drips off the rod).



Once the caramel reaches the desired thickness, you are ready to begin dipping your pretzel rods.



As you pull each rod out of the caramel, swipe one side of the caramel off on the side of the jar. The scraped side is the one you lay on the parchment paper. By scraping off some of the caramel, you avoid having the caramel pool underneath and going to waste.



Once you have dipped all the rods in caramel and they have set up (it takes about 5 minutes), you can dip them in the chocolate using the same method. You can use a double broiler for this process, but that takes longer. Instead, I used the A'peels dipping chocolates. I poured them in a bowl and heated them in the microwave on medium-high heat. The most important part about melting the chocolate is to NOT overheat it. Once the chocolate is about 2/3 the way melted, take it out, and stir it until all the chocolate is smooth. Then it is perfect for dipping. By the way, I didn't do this, but you could coat the pretzel rods in crushed nuts or candy once you've dipped them in chocolate. I decided to go for a chocolate drizzle instead (see below).



The final step is to drizzle the caramel/chocolate-covered pretzel sticks with white or dark chocolate. I used white chocolate, which I melted in the microwave and then put in a small Ziploc bag. I cut the corner off the bag, and that made the drizzling much easier.



Finished product.



By the way, I ended up with too much leftover milk chocolate dipping chocolate for the pretzel sticks, so I had some marshmallows on hand, and I dipped those with the excess. Not only were they delicious to eat, but I think I'll try putting one in a cup of cocoa and see how that tastes.

Jan 28, 2013

No-Knead Bread Variation: Garlic Parmesan

I made this no-knead artisan bread variation to rave reviews for a family dinner yesterday. The garlic and cheese are a natural combo in this recipe. Of the variations I've tried so far, this is easily my favorite.

4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rising yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried sliced garlic (I found this at Costco)
2 cups water at about 70 degrees
Cornmeal (I usually just use flour and sometimes a little cornmeal)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Then stir in the cheese, parsley, and garlic. Add the water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 14 hours, preferably about 18 to 24, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Put dough seam side down on floured work surface and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a cotton dish towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot in the oven while it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove heated pot from the oven. Gently move the ball of dough with your hands from your work surface and drop it into the pan, seam-side up. It may look like a mess, but that is okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10 to 15 minutes (Note: I often like a less dark and crunchy crust, so I'll usually tend to go on the lower side in terms of time), until loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Jan 16, 2013

Coconut Rice

1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
Dash of salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, 18 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Jan 11, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe could not be any easier. I saw it on Pinterest initially, but it comes from Paula Deen originally, I understand. Honestly, I've never made flourless cookies like these before, and I'm amazed how they can taste like normal cookies without flour. But they do, and these cookies has a great peanut buttery flavor. The next time I make them, I may reduce the baking time a bit because I like a softer cookie, but other than that, I wouldn't change a thing.

1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, the egg, and vanilla, and stir well with a spoon. Roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. With a fork, dipped in sugar to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven, and if desired, sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Cool slightly before removing from pan.