Monday, December 20, 2010

Royal Icing Recipe

This recipe made AMAZING royal icing that went perfect on Christmas cookies. Of course, me being who I am, I was have freaking out the whole time that I was eating raw egg whites. Well, I did some research, and although it is not recommended to eat raw eggs, if you are going to it helps if they are from cage-free hens or from an organic market, since they live in healthier conditions. It is supposedly also safer to eat raw egg whites than raw egg yolks. Or if you can plan ahead, just buy pasteurized egg whites - then you are completely in the clear :) 

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites or 5 tablespoons meringue powder
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Food coloring, if desired

For Royal Icing:
With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice or extract until frothy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, smooth, and shiny. Turn to high and beat approximately 5 minutes till stiff and glossy. Add food coloring, if desired, and transfer to a pasty bag to pipe onto cookies.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shrimp Fra Diavolo


Last night I was hungry, there was no fresh food in the house, and I went into a food frenzy. Immediately, I pounced on the frozen shrimp and canned tomatoes, and before I knew it I was cooking Giada's Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipe. Of course there are a few small differences. No fresh food means no fresh onions, so those were nixed, but it actually made the recipe ten times simpler.

Ingredients
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon chopped  Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped  basil leaves

Directions

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Set shrimp aside. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, parsley, basil and oregano.Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp back in, season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bubbe doesn't work for the Food Network

Even in the picture you can tell that these Kolachky cookies are sticky and shiny. I can tell you when I split them in two, they definitely weren't cooked all the way through. The insides were doughy even after they cooked for forty minutes and they were burned on the outside. I got the recipe from the food network website from an episode of Sweet Dreams called "Bubbe's Bakeshop", but in this case I think you just need to go to real people to find out the tricks. On All Recipes, someone said to knead the dough until it lost its stickiness, and I bet when I try this again it will turn out better. After all, I used a pound of prunes to make the homemade filling, now I have to find a way to use it all up!

Thanksgiving 2010

This Thanksgiving I have a lot to be thankful for. Despite my attempts to avoid family gatherings by working three shifts this week, people worked around my schedule to make sure I could participate. I ended up going to a total of four meals, and inevitably there was cooking involved. I made a pumpkin pie, a carrot dish, and cornbread stuffing. The pumpkin pie was made from the recipe on the back of the can - does wonders every time :) The carrot recipe was from an Israeli friend who has great recipes for all kinds of Mediterranean-type foods.



Moroccan Carrot Salad: Serves 8
Ingredients:
2 lbs Carrots
Fresh parsley, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped very finely
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sweet Moroccan paprika
lemon juice from one large lemon
a dash of pepper
salt to taste, roughly 1 tsp
Golden Raisins (optional)
Preparation:
1. Peel and trim carrots, place in pot of water and bring to a boil. (If using raisins, simmer them in broth until plump.)
2. Cook until a fork is inserted easily but don't overcook as carrots will be too soft.
3. Slice carrots in thin rounds, or use a corrugated vegetable knife to cut rippled carrots (very professional  looking!)
4. Add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, a dash of pepper, and salt.
5. Stir well and add chopped parsley and golden raisins
6. Taste salad, it should have a slightly tart garlic, lemony taste with a slight touch of paprika. Make sure there's enough salt to bring out the flavor, this is sometimes the difference between a good salad and a perfect one! Add more lemon juice if needed, and refrigerate before serving to allow the carrots to marinate a bit.

My friend also said to add cinnamon if you want to get really fancy. I much prefer cooked carrots over raw, and I recently learned that it actually helps the beta-carotene in carrots absorb at higher rates in your body if the carrots are cooked. A mixture of different raisins would make this dish extra colorful. 


For my second dinner, I made cornbread stuffing. I tested this recipe only about a week ago, but to be honest, I lost the real recipe. I did remember it was a mixture of cornbread, celery, onion, dried cranberries, and granny smith apples. Pretty much, I let the package size be my serving size, and it seemed to work out. The back of the dressing box also had instructions, so I could just follow them to determine proportions of broth and butter. 

Ingredients
2 boxes of Sage Cornbread Stuffing from Whole Foods 
5 stalks of celery, finely chopped
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 small package of dried cranberries (Whole Foods brand had the least amount of added sugar)
3 granny smith apples, diced
2 2/3 cups vegetable broth
1 stick of butter, melted

Directions
1. Saute the onions and celery in a little bit of butter
2. Combine cornbread, onions, celery, cranberries, and apples in a large bowl
3. Pour broth and melted butter into the bowl and mix
4. If there is not enough moisture, add some water
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes covered with aluminum foil, and then 10 minutes uncovered. 





Monday, November 15, 2010

Tea Parties require Tea Sandwiches


These sandwiches were a really great way to clean out the fridge and they worked great for our little tea party. After some research I decided on four different recipes:

Duchess of York Tea Sandwiches

Hardboiled Egg
Curry Powder
Cream Cheese
White Bread

Cucumber Sandwiches

Sliced Cucumber
Cream Cheese

Tomato Tea Sandwiches

Tomato
Cream Cheese
Cucumber

Tomato Basil Sandwiches

Tomato 
Mozzarella
Basil Paste

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tea Parties require Tea Cakes


These tea cakes were perfect bite size treats for our roommate tea party. I only filled the muffin cups half way so they wouldn't overflow - so cute! Adapted from Taste of Home.

Almond Tea Cakes
60 Servings
Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake: 20 min.


Ingredients
2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Filling:
1 egg white
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Milk
Sliced almonds

Directions
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and almond extract; mix well. Add flour and baking powder (dough will be soft). Chill.
For filling, in a small bowl, stir egg white, sugar, almonds and lemon juice. Remove a portion of the dough at a time from the refrigerator. Place 1-in. balls of dough into miniature muffin cups, pressing slightly into sides and bottom. Place 1/2 teaspoon of filling into each. Cover with quarter-sized circles of dough.
Brush with a little milk and top with an almond. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Yield: about 5 dozen.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 119 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 23 mg cholesterol, 73 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cravings for Cheese Much?


This November has been a month a white sauces... and I never make white sauces.
Last week I made an attempt at cheese fondue, and it didn't turn out, so I made macaroni and cheese from the melted cheese/milk/butter mixture. Last night I made cheesy potatoes because the potatoes were sprouting and I needed to use them up. Both of them required a white sauce and both of the white sauces were kind of funky. The macaroni cheese sauce was grainy, and the potato cheese sauce wouldn't thicken!! Clearly I need to learn how to make white sauces!

                        

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole


It's starting to get cold outside, and food that sticks to your insides are starting to look more appealing. Paula Deen's Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole was just what I needed to warm me up before going out for Halloween! (Just a few alterations)

Ingredients
1 (8-ounce) package wild rice
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoons butter
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (10 3/4-ounce can) condensed cream of potato soup
1/4 cup freshly grated Pepper Jack Cheese
Salt and pepper


Directions
1. Cook the rice. 1/4 wild rice, 3/4 basmati rice with 2 1/4 cups water for 45 minutes.
2. Cook the onions, peppers, and shrimp together with a teaspoon of butter.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
4. In a large bowl, combine the rice, soup, 1/4 cup of cheese,shrimp and vegetables. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well.
5. Spray a 9-inch square aluminum cake pan or an 11 by 7-inch glasscasserole dish with vegetable spray. Place the mixture in the pan and top with extra cheese, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: Harvest Pumpkin Bars


I finally got a chance to use my AMAZING new cookie recipe book.There was a bake sale friday to raise money for Children's Literacy and pumpkin bars seemed like the perfect thing two days before Halloween. I quadrupled the recipe from 16 bars to 64 bars, and it was definitely less than I expected; I guess those 64 bars are pretty small. Scaling up the recipe also gave me an excuse to use less oil, which I am always trying to do.

Quadrupled Harvest Pumpkin Bars
(makes 64 bars)

Ingredients
1 cup canola oil
8 large eggs
2 15 oz cans pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
5 cups AP Flour
Pecans, for topping

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil,  eggs, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl and use a mixer to combine. Stir in flour gradually and mix. Pour batter into several pans and bake for 30 minutes, taking them out half-way in between to spread pecans on top.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Midnight Apple Pie



The Scenario: It's midnight. I don't want to do homework. There are four large apples staring at me across the room in my lovely fruit bowl. There are pre-made pie crusts in the fridge. I am going grocery shopping tomorrow. I need to clear out the fridge before I go... 
Darn, I guess that means I'm making pie.  (And in case you're wondering, it's supposed to be a flower.)

Ingredients

1 Premade Double Crust Pie Pastry
6 Cups Of Fresh Skinless Chopped Green Apples
1 Cup Of White Superfine Sugar
2 Tablespoons Of Real Softened Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Of White All Purpose Baking Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Of Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Of Fine Ground Table Salt
1 Teaspoon Of Freshly Ground Cinnamon


Instructions

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, or 225 degrees Celsius. Take out a nine inch pie dish, and carefully add into it the bottom crust pastry layer. Next take out a small mixing bowl, and sift together the white superfine sugar, white all purpose baking flour, fine ground table salt, fresh ground cinnamon, and freshly ground nutmeg. Next take out a large sealable mixing bowl, and add in the fresh skinless chopped green apples, melted butter and the sugar mixture. Place a lid over the bowl, and then vigorously toss the fruit until they are evenly coated with the sugar, flour, and spices. Spoon the apples into your pie dish. You can now add the top pie crust layer over the filling, and then bind the two layers of crust together at the seams. Be sure and make several slits into the pie top so that the filling can breath. Now that you are ready to bake the dessert, slide it into the oven for fifteen minutes. Cover the pie with aluminum foil on the outer edges, and bake the pie for an additional forty minutes, or until the crust is golden, and the apples are tender and juicy. Serve the pie warm with a single scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I was looking for a Baked Pear recipe. This one from Disney Family was easy and hard to resist (see above). If you don't have a melon baller or a peeler (like me), slice the pear, cut off the skins and cut the slices into small chunks. 

Juicy pears are the star of this flavorful baked dessert.

Hands-On Time: 1 hour
Ready In: 2 hours
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients
1 ripe pear (Bosc, Anjou, or Bartlett)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Directions


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pear in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeded centers with a teaspoon or melon baller. Then spoon out most of the flesh onto a cutting board, leaving the pear shells intact. Put the shells in a baking dish. Chop the scooped pear into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a small bowl. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces and add to the bowl.


Your child can add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar to the chopped pear mix and toss with a spoon. Then she can spoon the filling back into each pear half. Give her some aluminum foil and have her crumple it into balls, placing them around the pears to keep them from tipping.


Put the flour, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and the salt in a small bowl. Let your child use her fingers to smush the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, then sprinkle half the topping over each pear.


Bake pears, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Theme Meal: Forced to Cook Chicken

Chicken may be healthy, it may be cheap, but I am still scared to cook it. The threat of Salmonella is constantly in my mind every time I use a new utensil or dish. My biggest mistake is overcooking it. Without a thermometer, I always err on the side of caution and cut up the chicken into small pieces so I can make sure every piece is cooked through. I couldn't do that for this recipe since I had to cook them whole, and they actually turned out really moist and flavorful.

Ingredients

•4 4 oz chicken breasts
•Olive Oil Pam
•2 Tbsp flour for Breading
•6 oz white wine
•1 garlic clove
•1 bay leaf
• Salt and Pepper

Directions 
Slice the chicken breasts along the length to obtain large, medium-thick slices.
In a large frying pan pour the extra virgin olive oil and add the crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt.
set a layer of flour on a flat dish and dampen the slices of chicken one by one on each side, until you have covered the entire slice with a thin layer of flour. Avoid clumps of flour. Now set them to cook in the pan.
Turn the chicken slices when you see that the border of the slice has whitened and the cooked side is browning lightly.
Right after turning them, increase the heat to high and pour the white wine letting it evaporate vigorously.
Add the minced bay-leave, sprinkle some black pepper, turn them over one more time.
Serve them very hot.

Modified from: http://experience-tuscany.thriftytuscany.com/tuscan-chicken-recipe/1425#ixzz0zpfj4DUl

Theme Meal: Eggplant Caponata


My recipes need to be turned in next week, so I was in a scramble to find a good vegetable side dish after making some very lackluster spinach cakes. I needed more bright color, which initially made me think of spinach, but eggplant also has a beautiful color. The big issue with eggplant that I always hear is that it soaks up oil very quickly, so I reduced the olive oil from 5 tablespoons to 1 tablespoon, and it turned out great! I served it with toasted French bread and spread the eggplant mixture on top like a crostini - delicious!

Ingredients

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 1 1/2-pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, cubed
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings in juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add eggplant, onion, and garlic cloves. sauté until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, then red wine vinegar. Cover and simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in fresh basil. Transfer caponata to serving bowl. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. (Caponata can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
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Butternut Squash For One


A week or two ago, one of my classmates in Foodservice lab made a butternut squash and spinach pasta with balsamic vinegar and sage. I tried to copy hers using a recipe from Sandra Lee and it turned out really well. I cooked the squash in the oven, while cooking pasta on the stove. When they were both done, I threw them together in a bowl and covered them with aluminum foil I used on the baking sheet. Then, I quickly cooked the spinach in the pot I used to make pasta with a little bit of Pam. Minimal cleaning required!

Ingredients
1 (20-ounce) package peeled cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix to coat the squash.
Place squash on a nonstick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until the squash is tender and brown about 30 to 35 minutes making sure to flip the squash after 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quick & Easy "Crab Cake" Sandwich


I needed to go grocery shopping yesterday, but with two exams this week, it just isn't happening until tomorrow. So, for once, I checked the freezer last night to see what I could defrost. I found Imitation Crab Meat - the kind you find in salad bars and is pre-cooked. I figured the worst case scenario was that I would eat it straight out of the bag as a snack. Well turns out inspiration came at the right time and I had delicious and light crab cake sandwiches for lunch!


Ingredients:
Whole wheat bread, 2 slices
I package (7 oz) Imitation Crab Meat
Two stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsp stone-ground mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
Zesty lemon seasoning, to taste
Pepper, to taste 
Sliced Cheese (optional)

Directions:
Mix together last 7 ingredients in a bowl and spread on toasted bread. Grill in George Foreman grill or panini maker until warm, or cheese is melted.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not quite like mom used to make...


My mom always makes the best stuffing at Thanksgiving and Christmas - just celery, onion, butter and Pepperidge Farm stuffing. She would always make twice as much and leave half of it uncooked in the refrigerator. Everyday I would have a small bowl as a snack or as part of the meal, and at the end of the week, the flavors have all marinated together and the stuffing is absolutely delicious. I had a bunch of leftover oatmeal bread that was going to go bad, so I bought some celery today and made homemade stuffing. 
All the recipes I found said to use poultry seasoning, a mixture of thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper and nutmeg, but it just didn't smell the same as my mom's. Some recipes said to use parsley, and some suggested garlic or garlic powder, but any recipe with sausage or apples or cranberries is just overly extravagant. It's definitely going to take a couple tries to get this right.

Celery and Onion Stuffing

Ingredients
1/2 loaf sliced white bread
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable broth

Directions
Cut bread into 1/4" cubes and dry in the oven for 5 minutes at 300 degrees. In a Dutch oven, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until soft. Season with poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in bread cubes until evenly coated. Moisten with chicken broth; mix well. Bake in a buttered casserole dish at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I found this in Barnes & Noble on Friday. I'm super excited after so many bad or mediocre cookie recipes to try (hopefully) tested recipes for not one, but four different types of sugar cookies - chewy, crunchy, browned edges or cut-out! Plus each one has variations - just think of the possibilities!

Theme Meal: Tuscan Salad, my new favorite


Once I did the nutritional analysis of my original appetizer for my themed meal - a prosciutto and goat cheese salad - I knew I had to change it. It had more fat then I care to admit. So I went in the exact opposite direction and found a recipe that is amazing with minimal oil and no cheese at all. Just think how good it would be with a sprinkle of Parmesan! It was still tasty after a few days in the fridge so I had it for lunch a few days in a row. Thanks Giada!

Ingredients:
8 ounces green beans, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/2 red onion, cut into slivers
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce shaved Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)


Directions:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until beans are slightly tender. Transfer the cooked green beans to a bowl of ice water and let cool for 3 minutes. Drain the green beans.

In a large bowl, combine the green beans with the lettuce, cannellini beans, olives, and red onion. Toss to combine. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Top with shaved Parmesan and serve.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Paula Deen's Sugar Cookies


There were no cookies in the apartment, so darn, I had to make some. I went back to Paula Deen to supply me with these sweet sugar cookies. The combination of Almond and Vanilla is DELICIOUS! Instead of making cut-outs I just rolled the dough into balls and flattened them with a fork, like you do with peanut butter cookies. Only you press it once instead of twice, or else they flatten too much and burn the edges. 10 minoutes in the oven makes perfectly soft cookies, 14 minutes makes crispier ones. 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Granulated sugar
Royal Icing, recipe follows

Directions

In a bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, then mix in the egg and vanilla and almond extracts. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and cream of tarter; mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, then cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide the chilled dough in half and roll it out on a lightly floured pastry cloth to a 1/4-inch thickness. Lightly grease some baking sheets. Cut the dough with a floured cookie cutter; sprinkle with sugar. Transfer the cookies to the prepared sheets and bake for 9 minutes.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/monogrammed-sugar-cookies-recipe/index.html

These Coconut Macaroons Set Off the Fire Alarms


I am trying a new thing where the only cookies and sweets I eat are the ones I make myself. This gives me an excuse to try all the super unhealthy cookie recipes by Paula Deen. The other day I made her coconut macaroons. They went really well except that they kept making all this steam and setting off the smoke alarm every time I opened the oven door. Only later, when I told my mom that the macaroons stuck to the wax paper, did I find out that the steam was the wax paper burning of the wax. Oops! Hope I didn't inhale wax or something. Next time, I will be sure to use parchment paper.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, almond extract, and salt. Mix in condensed milk to form a thick paste. Fold in egg whites with cream of tarter. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Themed Meal: Tuscan White Beans


These beans had great reviews and were promoted as great cold-weather comfort food, but although they were good, they were not AMAZING, and I am going to have to make them again before I completely decide to make these for my theme meal. First of all, they took 2 1/2 hours to cook, which may or may not have been because I kept steaming off the bean broth. Second, maybe I just don't understand how to cook dried beans, but "boiling the beans until 3/4 done" doesn't mean anything to me. I ended up just boiling them for an hour and fifteen minutes and transferring them to the other pot because I don't want them to "go soft on me", but I'm not sure why since they are going to get soft when they stew in the tomato mixture. Anyways, bitterness and confusion aside, I'm going to give the recipe another chance, and maybe with this experience under my belt (and a little google research), I can do better.

Fagiuoli all'Uccelletto

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 60 minutes

Ingredients:
1 pound (500 g) dried canellini (white beans), soaked for 3 hours.

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

7-8 leaves of fresh sage

1-2 peeled fresh plum tomatoes or a small can of tomatoes

Boiling water

Salt and pepper to taste

8 Italian link sausages (optional; see below)

Preparation:

If you choose to serve Fagiuoli all'Uccelletto with sausages, you'll want freshly made mild Italian sausages, or perhaps a mixture of mild and other kinds (e.g. garlic or pepper-laced), so long as the spiced sausages aren't so strong they'll overpower the beans. Depending upon the size of the sausages and the appetites of your diners, figure two or more sausages per person.

In any case, begin by boiling the beans until 3/4 done in lightly salted water. This will take about an hour, though you should begin checking them after a half hour. You don't want them to go soft on you. If you are including sausages, prick their skins lightly with a fork and simmer them in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes to render out some of the fat.

Once the beans are 3/4 done, set the olive oil to heat over a medium flame, in a heavy bottomed clay pot or dutch oven. When the oil's hot, add the garlic and the sage (not more than seven or eight leaves; too much sage will make the beans bitter). Cook until the sage crackles and the garlic is lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, then add the beans and bean broth to cover. Season the beans with salt and pepper, add the sausages, and simmer everything until the beans are quite soft, stirring occasionally and adding bean broth as necessary to keep things from drying out.

Serves four, and you will want a tossed green salad with several varieties of radicchio (arugola) to go with it. The wine? A light, zesty Chianti Classico d'Annata (le Corte Corsini's Chianti Classico comes to mind).





http://italianfood.about.com/od/beans/r/blr0644.htm

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Themed Meal: Wow! Fastest Dessert EVER!


       For my food service class, I have to plan a big three or four course meal, and I decided I would make tiramisu for dessert. Although there are many complicated recipes, this one by Sandra Lee who is known using preprepared ingredients and simple preparation methods, took only about 20 minutes. The most time-consuming part is layering the ladyfingers, cream cheese frosting and whipped cream. I didn't have wine glasses so I experimented with making parfaits in bowls before trying them in some plastic cups. 


       It didn't take me long to figure out that if you dip ladyfingers in hot coffee they pretty much disintegrate, so I began spooning coffee over the cookies instead. Spreading the cream cheese mixture on top was also a little frustrating. But when I used a cup instead, I could just drop a generous tablespoon in and press it down with the next layer of ladyfingers to spread it out. 


Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (7-ounce) package ladyfingers
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Directions

Have 4 (8-ounce) wine glasses ready.
In a chilled bowl combine 3/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until light until fluffy.
Reserve 4 ladyfingers for garnish. Using1 lady finger at a time, snap or cut in half, then dip it quickly into the coffee, and drop it into the bottom of a wine glass. Repeat with the other 3 glasses. Put a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on top of the ladyfingers in each glad. Do another layer of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, another of the cream cheese mixture, then 1 more layer of ladyfingers. Top with remaining filling and dollop with the whipped cream. Break the reserved 4 ladyfingers in half and insert 2 halves into the top of each glass.
Put the cocoa powder into a small sieve and tap it gently over each glass to dust the tops. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Monday, September 6, 2010

These Almond Cookies Are So Much Better


These Honey Almond Flower Cookies turned out so much better! But they could have tasted a little bit more like almonds - gotta keep looking for the perfect Almond Cookie Recipe!

These look like my kind of cookie...

Courtesy of hotpolkadot.com
Honey Almond Flower Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp honey
2 tsp almond extract
3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Slivered almonds for garnish
1 egg yolk for egg wash
1 tsp water for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper then set them aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until it's light a fluffy. Add the egg, honey and almond extract then beat it until it's combined well.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt then add it to the butter mixture and mix it well.
Scoop a heaping tbsp of dough for each cookie and roll them into balls. Lightly compress the balls into thick discs between your palms. Carefully press five of the slivered almonds into each cookie in a flower arrangement. Whisk together the egg yolk and water then, using a pastry brush, coat the tops of each cookie in the egg wash making sure not to knock off the almonds. This will make the cookies shiny, golden brown and act as an almond flower glue to hold the garnish.
Bake them for 10 minutes until they turn a light amber brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

The Last Two Didn't Burn... but the other 18 Almond Cookies weren't so lucky...

The Two that Didn't Burn
Fluffy, Chewy, Sweet, Almondiness with Burnt edges is how I would describe these cookies from AllRecipes. I was so excited to use my new almond paste, I just picked the first recipe with good reviews that I had all the ingredients for. What I realized afterwards? This cookie is basically just sugar, flour and egg whites! I think there needs to be a little more substance!

I tried to improve with each batch, and the last batch was definitely the best. The first one I left in for exactly 15 minutes and they all were burnt and stuck to each other. I used Pam spray to coat the baking sheet, and sometimes I think Pam seeps into the edges and cooks them faster, so I decided to use butter in the next batches. 

The First Batch

The second batch, I used a stick of butter to lightly grease the baking sheet and I made much smaller cookies. I was sitting by the oven, checking on them every minute and some how, they still ended up crispy. They were still tasty, and they came up off the baking sheet much easier, but still I was not satisfied!

The Second Batch

The third batch was only three cookies because that was the only batter I had left. I was so determined not to burn these cookies, that when one cookie started browning, I just pulled them out. One of the reviewers suggested using parchment paper, which I bet would have helped with the crisp edges. They also said to chill the dough in the fridge for twenty minutes and use an ice cream scoop. But for now, I'm going to try almond cookies with some more substance.

THE RECIPE

Ingredients

1/2 pound almond paste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the almond paste, flour, egg whites, white sugar and confectioner's sugar until well blended. The mixture will be very sticky. Scoop out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and drop them onto the cookie sheet. Place 2 inches apart.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Questionably Cajun


I spent last week in Ocean City, MD and after eating out for three days in a row, I was actually craving vegetables. The result? A combination of Paula Deen's Dirty Rice, a Dirty Rice recipe from AllRecipes, and the Sausage Jambalaya recipe on the back of Uncle Ben's Parboiled Rice. I took onion, celery and bell peppers from Paula Deen, kidney beans from AllRecipes and garlic, Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth and Andouille sausage from Uncle Ben. 

Cajun Rice a la Ocean City

Ingredients:
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 can dark red kidney beans
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 pack of precooked Cajun Andouille sausage, sliced
Bouillon cube (Recommended: Edward & Sons Not Chick'n) 
Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups white rice
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1. Boil 3 1/3 cups of water, drop in 1 bouillon cube and allow to melt, pour in rice
2. Sauté onion, celery, and bell pepper, flavoring with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste
3. Stir continuously, adding more sauce as it cooks
4. When the onions are browned, heat up the beans and sausage with the other vegetables
5. When the sausage is heated through, serve vegetable mixture on top of the white rice

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Tofu Experiment

I finally got up the courage to try making tofu the other day. I used what they call the dry method. You chop the tofu into small cubes, pat them down with a paper towel and fry them in a non-stick skillet with no oil until the sides are golden.While they are browning, press them down with a spatula to steam out the water. Then marinate for 30 minutes or more. 
We used a Balducci's Thai Marinade. I am going to have to experiment with marinades because the one I used was a little salty. 
After marinating, we stir-fried the tofu with olive oil and mushrooms. I cooked the scallions, carrots, snow peas and bell peppers separately and added them in later.
Deliciousness complete! I'm going to test out different marinades this week and see which ones are best :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Health" Food

I have been working at a hospital and helping them run a Wellness Program all summer. Each week we send out recipe ideas and workout tips in a newsletter to the participants. Each week I promise I will try the recipe before hand to make sure I am not going to discourage people from eating vegetables or trying a new food. And each week, I fail to do it.

Well, this week the recipe is not a vegetable or a new way to bake chicken, but muffins. Muffins I can do. I have no problem finding the motivation to bake up a batch of Fig Muffins. Especially because there is a valuable lesson in recipe substitutions to be learned. And the added bonus? The recipe was written by a Registered Dietitian! Check out Ellie Krieger on the Food Network if you get a chance - she is the real deal.

Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped dried figs, plus 3 whole dried figs
1 1/2 cups bran cereal (recommended: All-Bran)
1 cup lowfat milk
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup natural applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray. Thinly slice the whole figs.
2) In a large bowl, combine the cereal and milk. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
3) Add the applesauce, honey, oil, molasses, and egg to the cereal mixture and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the chopped figs. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and top each muffin with a fig slice. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.
4) Bake for about 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. If necessary, run a knife around the muffins to loosen. Unmold and cool completely on a rack.

Note: Make a batch of these muffins on the weekend, then wrap them individually in waxed paper and freeze them in a sealable plastic bag. When you want a muffin all you have to do is take 1 out the night before to defrost at room temperature. Enjoy with a skim latte or a to-go container of lowfat milk for a perfect start to a busy day.

Nutritional analysis per serving (Serving size: 1 muffin)

Calories 230; Total Fat 8 g; (Sat Fat 1 g, Mono Fat 4 g, Poly Fat 2 g) ; Protein 5 g; Carb 42 g; Fiber 6 g; Cholesterol 20 mg; Sodium 135 mg

Excellent source of: Fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Folate, Manganese, Phosphorus

Good source of: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remember Valentine's Day? The pictures were finally uploaded!

If you recall, Valentine's Day 2010 consisted of crostini appetizers, stuffed peppers and rack of lamb. See February 17th. But until now, there has been no photographic evidence.


This makes me want to make those stuffed peppers again... they were sooo delicious!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A taste from the "Joy of Cooking"

One of my good friends is a chocolate fiend and we thought this would satisfy her craving because of the 4 ounces of chocolate that goes into it (about 1 Hershey's chocolate bar). However, the resulting taste was more like a coffee cake than a birthday cake. I don't recommend shaving the chocolate by hand with a cheese grater - it was very messy!! But Wiki Answers says the best methods are with a potato peeler or a melon baller:


Vegetable or Potato Peeler - Hold the chocolate with a paper towel and pass the vegetable peeler over the narrowest side of the chocolate block. The chocolate will curl up like wood shavings.

Melon Ball Scoop - Position the bar of chocolate on a parchment paper covered pan and hold it down with a paper towel. Scrape the melon ball scoop across the surface of the chocolate. You will get curved shavings.



OLD WORLD CHOCOLATE SPICE CAKE WITH CITRON

A tempting tube cake with a rather heavy crumb. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Have all ingredients about 70 degrees. Sift before measuring:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
Resift with:
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Cream until soft:
1/2 cup butter
Add gradually and cream until light:
1 1/2 cups sugar
Beat in one at a time:
4 eggs
Sitr in:
4 oz grated sweet chocolate
1/2 cup very finely shaved citron, candied orange or lemon peel
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in about 3 parts, alternating with:
7/8 cup milk
Bake for 60 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I'm super excited to nibble on this cake with my tea - nothing better for an "Old World" Cake.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sea Scallops


While acting as a chef's assistant yesterday, I learned a delicious recipe for scallops. My only concern is the fat and saturated fat content, but using half or two thirds the amount of oil in the sauce might help. I keep meaning to experiment with proportions in pesto sauces... Maybe this is my chance.

Ingredients
12 large sea scallops (about 1 1/4 lbs)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Basil leaves, garnish

Directions
1. Remove and discard the small side muscle from each scallop. Rinse scallop with cold water and pat dry with paper towels, set aside.

2. For sauce, in a blender, combine basil, 1/2 cup oil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter and remaining 1 Tbsp oil over high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper to taste, and add to skillet. Cook 2 minutes per side or until golden crust forms and scallops are opaque in the center.

4. To serve, place 3 scallops on each of 4 plates, drizzle with sauce, top with basil leaves.

Serves 4.

Nutrition: 367 calories, 3 g carbohydrate, 19 g protein, 0 g fiber, 32 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Sometimes food scarcity has to occur before you are willing to try new things. Looking at my empty refrigerator today, I realized I would have to look in the pantry for my lunch. I found lots of rice, pasta, beans and lentils. The colorful red lentils and split peas caught my eye, but the red lentils seemed more exotic and appetizing. I wasn't disappointed. The cumin, garlic, ginger and black pepper provided a ton of flavor and I still have to wait for my rice to finish cooking, so I can try them together!

Goya's Red Lentils and Rice

1 lb Goya dry Red Lentils
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 cups water
1 Chicken/Vegetable Bouillion Cube
2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantri
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Sort and wash lentils; set aside
2. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until tender.
3. Stir in ginger, and cumin. Cook and stir 1 minute.
4. Add remaining ingrendients and lentils. Bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add more hot water if necessary.
6. Serve over cooked white rice.

As always, I find it impossible to strictly follow a recipe. I had no white rice, so I made brown basmati rice. The chicken bouillion cube did not dissolve in the water, so in the future I would use 2 cups broth and 2 cups water instead. Otherwise, I am definitely going to try this one again as it requires very few fresh ingredients and takes almost no time.

Flavor of the Month: Latin American

After taking Spanish language classes for eight years, I have tried my hand at quite a few basic latin american recipes. In high school, the French students got to go to Quebec, and the Spanish students got to spend a day eating guacamole, empanadas and flan. So of course, when I saw a Latin Americna cookbook in Barnes & Noble for only $6.98, I was excited to try it. Last night, my boyfriend was craving something sweet and I obliged with a recipe for Peanut Butter Cinnamon Cookies (Galletas de Mani con Canela). I picked them for their simplicity - ingredients included flour, peanut butter, butter, sugar, cinnamon, egg and salt. Unfortunately, the flavor was simple too. They tasted like peanut butter and flour. I'm going to give "The Latin American Kitchen" another chance, but I won't be trying any of the other sweets anytime soon. Don't they just look bland and boring?