Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cranberry Almond Biscotti {no recipe}

So in class today we learned how to make meringues... as well as how to turn them into buttercreams. My partner and I got lucky and used passion fruit concentrate and liquor to flavor ours. It was by far the best tasting buttercream out of them all. Others included: lemon, raspberry, chocolate, mocha, hazelnut, vanilla and maple. It made me want to actually start baking more, especially cakes and cupcakes. The only problem with that is the lack of people around me to eat them. Lol.

I got home and was kind of wanting to make biscotti since soon it will be getting colder outside. Biscotti is great with a cup of tea or coffee {both of which we drink often}! I used a recipe out of my baking class textbook that we made in class and it worked out great. I just ended up replacing some of the components and added in a few that weren't originally there. That is one thing I'm loving about baking though, you can easily switch ingredients if you know how they work. I also grated some fresh orange zest and put a few drops of juice in there too... while subtle, it still adds a nice depth to the biscotti.

For dinner I made an old favorite: veggie paninis!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beef Tacos

Sometimes I think every night should be a taco night! Beef Tacos are by far my favorite as well, they just remind me of my childhood and making tacos with my mom. I'd always help her cut up all the condiments for the tacos and things like that are something I miss most... helping out in the kitchen.

I decided to make homemade taco seasoning for these because it seemed like a good idea. I've come to realize that making spice mixes is way more fun then buying them pre-made.

Beef Tacos

1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning {recipe below}
1/2 cup water

    • In a pan cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until thoroughly cook
    • Add the taco seasoning and water, and simmer until the liquid is almost completely gone. 



    taco shells
    tomatoes, chopped
    onions, chopped
    cilantro, chopped
    jalapeno, chopped
    lettuce, chopped
    sour cream

    Homemade Taco Seasoning
    Adapted from Annie Eats

    2 tablespoon chili powder
    1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
    1/2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon garlic {granulated}
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1 teaspoon salt

    • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix well to blend. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

    I served this with mexican rice topped with cheese. Also, I think it's pretty obvious that I love cheese!


    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Pesto Halibut

    My first practical is at 6 a.m. tomorrow! I need to get there by 5:30 which means I need to leave the house at 5... so early. Thankfully, everything is scaled and ready to go and we practiced today. I took tons of notes on what to do so I think I'll be fine, but I'm still nervous. Maybe cooking this dinner will take my mind off of it. I also have a half loaf of freshly baked sourdough that "chef" made while we were making our practice recipes. It's so good! He also made artisan baguettes, they were an improved method but looked like short. That just means that the crumb had tons of large holes. He took some of those and cut them in half - length-wise and topped them with bacon, caramelized onions and blue cheese and baked them... all I can say is I'm going to miss the bakeshop when we our block is over. We have so much fun just experimenting.

    Pesto Halibut

    3-6 halibut fillets, deboned and skinned 
    salt and pepper, for seasoning the fish
    whole grain mustard
    arugula pesto

    • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
    • Brush the halibut with mustard and top with arugula pesto. Bake for 15 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.

    I served this with oven roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary {from the garden} and asparagus.


    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Creamy Caprese Pasta

    I actually came across this recipe while I was on TasteSpotting back at the beginning of the year. I liked the idea of the grape tomatoes and knew that we would have plenty of them growing, so I've finally gotten around to making it. I also "pinned it" on Pinterest so I wouldn't forgot.

    Creamy Caprese Pasta
    Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

    1 lb pasta {tube}, cooked
    1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
    3/4 cups heavy cream
    1/3 cup parmesan cheese
    6 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
    1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
    1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
    cooking spray
    mozzarella, sliced

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Heat tomato sauce over low heat in a large pot. Once warm, stir in heavy cream and grated parmesan. 
    • Mix pasta in with the sauce, making sure to coat well, turn off the heat. 
    • Fold in the mozzarella cubes and tomatoes, add the basil and combine well. 
    • Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and pour the entire pasta mixture into the dish. Top with the extra mozzarella rounds.
    • Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

    Timmy made tea after dinner. One of the good things about tea is dipping things into it. I made a quick gingersnap and peanut butter cookie sandwich. Yum!


    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Waldorf Chicken Salad

    Chris wanted chicken salad for his lunch this week so I figured this would be good. It's quite easy to make and really good. The only thing I forgot was the applesauce, so I just left it out. Maybe next time I'm at the store I'll remember!

     Waldorf Chicken Salad

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
    2 marinated chicken breasts, chopped {recipe below}
    1/4 cup celery, diced
    1/4 cup apples, diced
    1/4 cup carrots, shredded
    1/4 cup dried cranberries
    1/8 cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup sour cream
    1 tablespoon tarragon
    salt and pepper, to taste

    • In a small pan, add the olive oil and walnuts and toast well. Let the walnuts cool before adding to the salad mixture.
    • Once the walnuts are cooled down, combine all of the ingredients together well. 

    Marinated Chicken Breasts:

    2 chicken breasts
    1 1/2 cup dr. pepper or cola
    1/8 cup soy sauce
    4 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 tablespoon orange juice

    • Combine all of the ingredients and let marinate for up to 2 hours or overnight.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Put the chicken a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes.
    • Remove from the oven and let rest until cool, about 15-20 minutes.
    • Chop into bite size pieces.


    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Spaghetti Sauce

    This is definitely more of a traditional sauce. I do like to do it differently sometimes though by adding in a different meat or even wine, which makes it more like a Bolognese. 

    Spaghetti Sauce

    1 lb ground beef
    1/4 lb ground pork sausage
    5 cloves garlic, chopped
    2 3/4 cups tomatoes, stewed
    1 can tomato sauce
    1 can tomato paste
    1 cup water
    3 tablespoons basil
    sugar, to taste

    • In a large pot over high heat, cook the beef and pork until thoroughly cooked and browned. Lower to medium heat and add in the garlic, cook for 5 minutes.
    • Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, basil and sugar and stir until combined.
    • Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours.


    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Cream of Potato and Leek {Soup}

    It's starting to feel like Fall here and that means soups galore! This is one of my favorite soups that my mom used to make. We're a family that loves our starches.

    Cream of Potato and Leek

    10 golden potatoes, medium dice
    2 leeks, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
    1/2 cup celery, chopped
    6 cloves garlic, chopped
    4 cups chicken stock
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/4 cup parmesan
     salt, to taste

    • In a large pot combine potatoes, leeks, celery, garlic, chicken stock and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, about 45 minutes until everything is tender. 
    • Once done, remove from the heat.
    • Using a blender, mix until there are no lumps.
    • Return the soup to the pot and turn to low heat.
    • Add the thyme, heavy cream and parmesan. Stir constantly until the soup is hot and the cheese has melted.

    Luckily I had a leftover baguette from class that I froze. I just threw it in the oven until it crisped up. 



    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Bananas Foster French Toast


    What a fun week it's been. We baked tons of breads in class. One of the breads was Challah. This delicious jewish egg bread is one of my favorites and I've actually made it before many times, usually for Thanksgiving. In class the only difference was that we did a 6 strand braid, and I usually only do a 3-4 strand braid. It was a little more challenging, but still really fun to try. We were allowed to take 1 loaf home which got me thinking of what I could do with it. Challah is such a great bread by itself, but there's always so much of it. So I figured french toast would be the best way to use it.

    Bananas Foster French Toast

    challah, sliced
    4 eggs
    1 cup milk
    1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 tablespoon butter

    • Slice the challah into 1/2 inch think slices.
    • Mix together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon until combined.
    • Dip each piece of the challah into the egg mixture for 10-15 seconds on each side. Make sure each piece is well coated.
    • In a large pan on high heat, melt the butter. Add the challah to the pan and cook until each side is golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.

    Bananas Foster Sauce:

    4 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons brown sugar
    1/4 cup maple syrup
    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 bananas, sliced

    • In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and cook until dissolved.  
    • Add the maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and cook for another 3 minutes. 
    • Lower the heat to simmer and add the bananas. Make sure to cover them with the sauce and let cook for another 5 minutes.

      Plate the challah and cover with the sauce.


      Tuesday, September 6, 2011

      Bread and Butter Pickles

      I'm not one to love pickles, but I do enjoy ones that are homemade, especially when they have onions in them! I liked the idea of these because there isn't a complete canning process involved. Not to say that I wouldn't love to can things in the future, but at the moment I just don't know how yet.

      Bread and Butter Pickles
      Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

      5 1/2 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
      1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
      1 cup thinly sliced onion
      1 cup granulated sugar
      1 cup white vinegar
      1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
      1/4 cup brown sugar
      1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
      1/8 teaspoon turmeric

      • Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1 1/2 hours. 
      • Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. 
      • Add onion to the bowl and toss with the cucumbers.
      • Combine the sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. 
      • Pour the hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.