Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Break

Hello Delish Makers,

I think we are all a bit busy as of late and would benefit from a holiday break. So, I purpose that we delay starting the third (YAY) rotation until Monday February 1. That should give all of us some time to relax before getting back into the swing of things. If for some reason you don't want to participate in round 3, just let me know.

If you do decide to make something from previous rotations, PLEASE post during the break. It would be fun to see what everyone is doing and if they are incorporating these recipes into their holiday meals.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cami's Butternut Squash Pasta

I too had trouble getting a good picture of this dish. I don't know if it was the color or lighting or what. It doesn't matter though because it was really good. I love all the hearty squash recipes we've done! Squash is something I normally shy away from and now I don't know why.

This is a nice fall casserole type dish. I loved the mix of flavors. My 1 year old really loved it too. We called it squashy pasta and he ate most of the casserole. Like Deanna said, the ricotta cheese made it seem like a treat instead of diet food. I will certainly make this again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Deanna's Butternut Squash Pasta

I tried and I tried, but I could not get a good photo out of this. So here is my post, sans photo. Oh well. I chose this recipe because I've been weakly attempting Weight Watchers and it's one I tried out for a dinner party a few weeks back. I liked it. It's very healthy with the whole grains and the full veggie serving in the squash. Plus, it kind of looks like mac and cheese. The ricotta adds a richness that tricks you into thinking you are not eating diet food and the walnuts add a little something extra. I definitely recommend it for someone looking for some comfort food on the healthy side :)

Now on to the questions...

Do you have any pet peeves?
I have WAY too many! Many of them have to do with table manners. Loud chewing or chewing with your mouth open, or talking with your mouth full. Those get me the worst.

Any other hobbies besides being an amazing cook?
I love to snowboard and play softball and I play the piano and love to travel.

What is your favorite summer activity?
I like to spend as much time at my parent's cabin as possible, heading out to Lake Alpine and floating all day on a raft in the water.

Are you a morning or a night person?
Not sure. I don't get up early, just early enough to make it to work. And I go to be early too. I guess I'm the type of person who loves my sleep and is most productive in the early afternoon.

Are you a go-go-go vacationer or a lie-on-the-beach vacationer?
Depends on the destination but mostly, I like to relax.

What is your favorite store?
Probably Urban Outfitters. If I had money to burn, I'd it burn there!

What is your favorite beverage?
If I'm splurging, it's going to be on a soy latte. I mostly just drink water though.

If you had to go back to school, what would your major be?
I really loved my major (Music), the classes, the department, the students. I don't think I'd change it, even though I've never found a job in the industry.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Melanie W.'s Veggie Burritos


This picture is nothing pretty, just all-natural goodness. Just how I like my food.

I think these were my first non-refried beans, non-meat burritos I've had. They had good flavor. I almost cut out the onion because I'm not a huge fan of a lot of onion, but glad I didn't because it really needs to be there. Without it there wouldn't be much substance to the filling. Not much else to say about them except for the fact that they got devoured!

(and after all this cooking this week my husband says to me "boy, you've sure been cooking a lot! It's been good!" Hope he doesn't expect me to always keep it up, ha!)

Melanie W.'s Creamy Shrimp Noodle Skillet


I made this tonight and it turned out better than expected! Maybe because I'm not a big shrimp eater, or maybe I thought the combination of ingredients sounded strange. But it was surprisingly yummy! And also super super easy to make, score! Like Cami had said (a super long time ago) she thought it would be too Velveeta-y, but it wasn't. It was just enought to add a nice flavor. I bet you could stir in some cheddar instead and it would be just as well.

Notes: I used less half and half - only 2 cups - because that was the size container I bought. I thought it was perfect and an easy way to cut out a little of the fat. Also, it calls for uncooked shrimp but I precooked the shrimp beforehand because I didn't think the 3 minutes given them to simmer in the sauce would cook them fully. I'm glad I precooked them first, it just made things come together easier in the end!

Melanie W.'s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies



I thought these things deserve the name "cakes" rather than "pies." The cookies were quite moist and soft and oh so thick! Pile two on top of each other and it's definitely a cake with the frosting in the middle. They were really yummy though. I halved the recipe because with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner I can't indulge myself too much too soon, right! I started making a large size then switched to making smaller and I should have just made them all small. They're the perfect snack size without feeling too guilty. :)

I forgot to add the vanilla to the cake mix (oops!) but don't think it really affected things too badly. Next time I think I would take it a bit easy on the spices. I thought it had too much cloves perhaps! Plus the cloves made mine look more brown than orange (though this picture makes them look nice and orange).

Melanie W.'s Winter-Vegetable Potpie

I really like making all these recipes because it gets me to try new things and plus I don't have to worry about thinking of something to make (I'm always saying 'uh-oh, what am I going to make for dinner tonight?') But it always seems hard for me to keep up with the recipes. There esp. are many recipes from the Baked book I haven't had a chance to try yet!

This past week I decided to play a little catch-up, so sorry for all the posts.


Here is my winter-vegetable potpie. My only complaint about this is the large amount of dirty dishes it created! Not having a dishwasher, I try to avoid piles of dirty dishes. But since it was yummy and hearty, I guess it was worth it. I used all the ingredients called for, and based on some of your reviews of parsnips I only used one but would have liked more because I hardly could taste a difference between them and the carrots. I forgot to "season generously with salt and pepper" so it lacked flavor but that is easily correctable! Overall, it was a hearty dish I could keep going back to.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl

Good Morning Ladies!

Unfortunately Amy is sick and can't post this week, so I'm going to do it instead. The recipe is Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl on page 38. I haven't had the chance to make it yet but I will towards the end of the week when my family comes to visit! I have made sour cream coffee cakes in the past and they are moist and delicious so I expect great things from this recipe, especially with the chocolate cinnamon swirl.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Danielle's Pasta e Fagioli

No picture. Didn't feel like it today.

This was a very good dinner. We all enjoyed it, and it'll make good leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I made a vegetarian version and left out the sausage. I'm sure it would've tasted good with the sausage, but I liked it without.

Because I left out the meat, I used only half the tomato sauce and left out some of the V8. I left the spice amounts the same, though, and even added some extra basil. It was a good balance of flavor.

I have to admit, I liked this dish but it wasn't a home run for me or anything. There aren't that many Italian-style dishes that really do it for me. But it tasted good and was healthy, so I can appreciate that.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cami's Veggie Burritos

I love how easy these are to make. I whipped them up last night in no time. They are quite tasty as well. As you can see Calder thought they were awesome. His favorite foods are cheese, avocado, black beans and tortillas so these are right up his alley.

The flavor is perfect. I love the onion and black bean insides. I also love the warm burrito with cool tomatoes and guacamole on top. I used orange bell pepper instead of red because I prefer the flavor. I somehow made large burritos and only ended up with 6. All well. I'll certainly make these again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deanna's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


A little late, as in about 3 months late. Yeah, that's how long it's been since I've contributed to this blog. I feel like such a failure sometimes. I know we ALL have busy lives so I really have no excuse. I baked some pumpkin cupcakes recently and had tons of leftover pumpkin puree so I obviously had no excuse for skipping this recipe. I know I'm a week late in posting but that's better than nothing, right? For the spices, I didn't have ground cloves so I substituted in 1/2 tsp of All Spice and 1/2 tsp of Nutmeg since the cupcake recipe I used called for both of those and it was really good. I was also out of vegetable oil and I used canola oil in it's place. I'm not sure if the oil was a factor but my cookies just didn't look ANYTHING like the ones in the pictures or like the ones you lovely ladies posted. They were flat like pancakes, no rise. Oh well, they still tasted great. The cream cheese frosting was wonderful and will be my go-to for cream cheese frosting from now on.

I hope you ladies all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I wish you all luck with the holidays!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veggie Burritos

1 tbs olive oil
1 med onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I use 1/2 tsp from a can)
1 tbs chili powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 can black beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tbs lime juice
3/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
flour tortillas
sour cream (optional)
Avacado
Tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, 10 minutes or until golden. Add jalapeno pepper, chili powder, garlic, oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute more. Add 1 tbs water and stir; remove from heat. Stir in beans, corn, bell pepper and lime juice.

2. Spoon 2 tbs cheese in center of each tortilla and add filling. Fold all 4 sides around the filling to enclose. Place burritos seam side down on baking sheet. Makes about 8 soft taco size burritos. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

3. Cut up avacado and tomato, sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, pepper and lime juice. Spread over the top, or instead just use salsa. Tastes good served with rice.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Whitney's Pasta E Fagioli Soup

Just wanted to give a shout out to Jess and say thanks for the yummy soup recipe. I didn't take a picture, but it was a great hearty meal and I did like it with the Italian Sausage. I made the whole batch and then froze half of it for later. p.s. Great suggestion to add the pasta to it as you eat, because you're right that it would make the leftovers less desirable (been there, done that).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cami's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I also generally like pumpkin desserts with cream cheese frosting. These did not disappoint. Mine were really really moist. I like that. Thanks to Whitney's advice I made mine smaller. I ended up with 22 whoopie pies and felt they were still large. I think next time I'll make them a little smaller still. I will definitely make these again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

LuAnn's makin' whoopie pies with pumpkin

Oh whoops...was that inappropriate? Couldn't resist.

I made these a few weeks ago so I'll just post about them. I got my pumpkin puree from a real live pumpkin rather than a can and per the link Danielle gave us they said to put foil over it to keep it moist. I did so and boy was it ever moist! I think I could have decreased the oil by 1/8 to 1/4 cup. I usually love pumpkin and I thought they tasted good, but I didn't really want more than a couple and the rest sat for a few days. I was hoping for better I guess.

I did sure love having pumpkin puree around, however. I put it in some of my whole wheat oatmeal pancakes, whipped up some homemade buttermilk syrup and it just might have been the best things I've eaten all month. I had 2 pumpkins after Halloween was over and I now have a stash of pumpkin puree in my freezer. Lucky me!

P.S. Can I indulge myself and mention how cute my little Jack is and that he loves "punkins." It's the funniest thing. He sees one and he must hold it, roll it around, and say "punkin, punkin, punkin." But, of course, he won't eat it. I love my little Punkin.

Danielle's Winter Pot Pie



This was a delicious dinner. We all liked it very much, and I appreciate any hearty, delicious, vegetarian meal. I used everything the recipe called for except mushrooms (I'm not a fan). I loved leeks last time I had them, so I was excited for an excuse to use them again. And parsnips are something I'd been wanting to try.

I have to admit, I didn't really like the flavor of the parsnips all that much. I thought they were pretty bitter. Max said he liked them though, and according to Wikipedia, parsnips are rich in vitamins and minerals and are a good source of fiber. So maybe I'll give them another shot sometime. I'll just have to sweeten them up or something.

The biscuit topping was delicious, and I imagine with all the vegetables this is a pretty healthy meal. I will definitely be making this again.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Danielle's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies



After not being able to find pumpkin anywhere here in Springfield, I thought I was in luck when I found some at a grocery store while I was in Seattle. So I stocked up and bought six cans. Turns out on the same day, Max's mom also found some at the Walmart back at home and stocked up with six cans. So I think I'm set on pumpkin for this season. :)

So the following week after returning from Seattle, I put the pumpkin to use and made these whoopie pies. I'm glad Whitney chose this recipe so I can post about it.

These were a little more moist and crumbly than I would prefer (they were easiest to eat with a fork instead of with hands), but they tasted great! I love pumpkin desserts with cream cheese frosting. Max doesn't usually like cream cheese frostings (crazy, I know), but even he liked these.

I agree with Whitney that I'll make them smaller next time. Just one of these was definitely all I could handle at one time. Bite-sized ones would be kind of fun. And it was definitely a huge recipe. I'll be halving it next time unless I'm feeding a lot of people.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Whitney's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


This week's recipe is the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. Is anyone sick of pumpkin yet? Hope not!

Thoughts:
- Really yummy! Can't help but love these.
- I didn't have an ice cream size dropper, but I don't think that mattered.
- Needed to be baked for more like 12-15 minutes in my oven, but it depends on the size of the cookie.
- I did large, medium and small sizes and liked how they turned out, but I'm looking at the large size thinking, "who's gonna eat these? there's 2 cookies and they're huge!" If you do different sizes, remember to group them together on their own pans since the small ones cook faster.
- "Yields 12 whoopie pies" - please note that this means 12 HUGE ones ... maybe - next time I'll probably half the recipe and make them really small and tiny.
- For the larger ones, I ended up just putting frosting on the top, rather than make them into a sandwich.

**********

Do you have any pet peeves? This one is weird, but I can't stand the sound of other people eating cold cereal - the clinking of the spoon and the slurping of the milk sounds just gross to me. I of course don't notice my own cold cereal noises. :)

Any other hobbies besides being an amazing cook? I like to run and am half way to my goal of 10 half marathons. I like any types of crafts and have most recently been designing birth announcements and holiday greeting cards in photoshop elements.

What is your favorite summer activity? Hot-air balloons on the 4th and fireworks

Are you a morning or a night person? I fall asleep during movies if we start them too late, so probably a morning person although I hate getting ready every day.

Are you a go-go-go sight-seeing kind of vacationer or lie-on-the-beach-all-day kind of vacationer? I'm go-go-go and have a hard time relaxing.

What is your favorite store? Costco

What is your favorite beverage? Fruit smoothies (my favorite includes pineapple juce, pineapple sherbert, frozen strawberries, bananas, plain yogurt, ice)

If you had to go back to school, what would your major be? I don't regret studying finance, I just would have taken more fun classes - like golf and photography.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Melanie W.'s Pasta E Fagioli Soup


This makes a ton of soup, and I'm glad because it is so good and with leftovers I get to enjoy it even longer! I loved the flavor of it. My little boy loved it and I was happy he willingly gobbled up beans and vegetables. I made mine with the Italian sausage, and this is definitely the way to go. With ground beef it would be a totally different soup. I also added more V-8 juice and could have even added more because I thought mine was a bit on the thick side. I didn't have all the seasonings so I just used Italian style diced tomatoes, and the soup had plenty of flavor. Thanks Jessica for a yummy recipe!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Future Recipes posted

Hi delish makers. I've just updated the future recipes page. So, check it out and get those ingredients on your grocery lists. Yummy stuff!

Pasta E Fagioli Soup


(This is not mine, mine looks better)

This is my favorite soup to make during the winter months.
It is basically a copy cat from the Olive Garden's Pasta E Fagioli but, after revisiting the restaurant, I have decided that this recipe is even better than theirs.
I got the original recipe from Top Secret Recipes online several years ago but have made some
minor adjustments.

Ingredients
1 pound mild italian sausage
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup) ( you can find a package of julienned carrots in the produce section)
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 12-ounce can V-8 juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 pound ditali pasta

1. Brown the sausage in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat

2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute for 5-7 minutes

3. Add all remaining ingredients, EXCEPT pasta, and let simmer for an hour

4. Cook pasta separately until al dente


5. Add individual portions of pasta to each bowl you intend to serve, if you dump it all into the pot of soup it will soak up all of your broth and left-overs become much less desirable.

Sprinkle a little Parmesan on top and serve with some crusty bread.
* The original recipe calls for ground beef instead of sausage. I like the sausage because it adds flavor.
**Sometimes I add an extra can of V-8 to get more liquid. Adjust spices accordingly.


Do you have any pet peeves?
People who work in the service industry but appear to hate their jobs.  I hate that.

Any other hobbies besides being an amazing cook?
I like to learn anything. Recently been doing a lot of graphic design. I like photography. I like to crochet and knit some. I love to play basket ball.

What is your favorite summer activity?
Anything in the sun.


Are you a morning or a night person?
I function either way.  I like my nights though.


Are you a go-go-go sight-seeing kind of vacationer or lie-on-the-beach-all-day kind of vacationer?
A good mix.  Some relaxing days, some go-go days.

What is your favorite store?
The Buckle

What is your favorite beverage?
Pineapple Soda from Uncle Joe's Jerk chicken

If you had to go back to school, what would your major be?
Graphic Design

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cami's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

I had high hopes for this loaf. It sounds like something I would go crazy for but in the end it was okay. Just okay. I also had problems with the outside being 'well done'. If I were to do it again I think I might drop the temperature a little so it cooked more evenly.

The taste did improve and deepen the next day. It also improved when I put some left over cream cheese frosting on it. That was tasty!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Melanie W.'s Vanilla Bean Caramel Apples


It's starting to really feel like fall here in Albuquerque and I can see snow on the mountains now, so I made these at the perfect time! This was my first time ever making caramel, and my first time cooking with both a candy thermometer and real vanilla bean, so it was fun to try new things.
Everything went well until the very end. I was careful to not stir it like the directions said, and I gradually turned the heat up so it wouldn't boil over. I kept waiting and waiting, but the temp never got over 215 degrees. Then it started to smell burnt, so I quickly took it off the heat because I didn't want the flavor to be ruined! Well, I don't think it cooked long enough. The caramel was pretty thin and, as you can see, just ran off the apples. And my attempt to dip them in peanuts pretty much failed.
I don't know if my candy thermometer just wasn't accurate (it's a cheap one, and my first time using it), or if I was just impatient. It was my son's bedtime, and his bedroom is currently the kitchen since we're living in a one bedroom apartment right now, so I may have turned the heat up too high too fast.
In the end, they were still edible and quite yummy! My caramel wasn't too chewy and had a very nice vanilla flavor. I really liked using the real vanilla bean. I might have to make caramel apples a yearly fall time tradition!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

This bread was a hit. When the autumn leaves start glistening with oranges, reds, and golds and the weather turns a bit chilly, something inside me just starts craving pumpkin. The beauty of this bread, however, was that the pumpkin flavor was not overwhelming, and even if you're not a pumpkin fan this sweet bread is worth a try. Simple, quick, easy and satisfying, all factors that make a winning recipe in my book.

Here's the scoop: I halved the recipe and made only one loaf since I was short on eggs, but it's a perfect-sized recipe to make and take one to a friend. I went a bit heavy on the chocolate chips, I guess I feel like each bite should include at least a few of those tasty morsels. My family seemed happy with the chocolate to pumpkin ratio, but if you don't love extra chocolate, stick with the recipe. The pumpkin flavor was lighter than I expected, which was still delightful but I might try adding a bit more pumpkin in next time to add a little pizzaz. And the blend of spices was just perfect for our tastes, not overly 'spicy' as my husband says; sometimes pumpkin recipes include a heavy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, but this was just right for us. This is a very easy and versatile recipe - if you prefer more or less seasonings, pumpkin flavor, or chocolate chips, I think you can tweak the recipe to your taste and still end up with a tasty sweet bread.

The crumb of this bread is very moist, tender and soft. Unfortunately, even though I removed the bread from my oven 20 minutes early, my crust was still just a tad overcooked for my taste, but our oven runs hot and is quite finicky. The bread still turned out fine, but I prefer a very soft, smooth crust. Your ovens probably all behave normally, but I'd recommend keeping an eye on the bread in the last 10+ minutes of baking, just to check. If you slightly overcook it, as I did mine, the crumb was still very tasty and moist, so it's hard to ruin. Overall, I'm not sure this is the one and only pumpkin bread recipe I will ever use, but everyone was pleased and I'll definitely be making this again, perhaps even in muffin form. This pumpkin loaf is a great basic recipe to be adjusted as desired, very easy, and a perfect addition to the flavors of fall!

Cami's Winter Vegetable Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Topping

Sorry, no picture. I didn't feel good yesterday when I made this and therefore couldn't muster the energy to take a decent picture. It looks very pretty though and would make a good meal for guests.

I really liked the homey flavor of this recipe. The vegetables were perfect and the cheddar biscuit topping made it a full meal in one dish (which I needed last night). I didn't add leeks or parsnips since I doubt Jason would eat them. I added an onion which I loved. I think next time I'll add celery and peas because I thought it could use a few more veggies to counterbalance the biscuit topping.

I will be making this again. I'm glad Suzy posted it now so I have another recipe to add to my winter favorites.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Danielle's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


I think this must be the most-blogged recipe on this blog. This originally came up the week we moved from Chicago, so I skipped it. I wasn't going to make it because it didn't grab me as something I really wanted to make. Then it kept popping up on the blog and everyone was saying how amazing these were, so I figured I had to try them.

I loved how easy these were to make. Including bake time, I had them done in an hour or less. I liked them, but I can't say I really loved them. Maybe it was my bananas, but I would've liked more banana flavor. I also think I added too many chocolate chips. They were a little overpowering. I admit, I didn't pay attention to how much the recipe called for. I just added them till I thought it looked like a good amount. If I make these again, I think I'll add them sparingly. A little chocolate is good, but I'd rather taste mostly banana.

Overall, I liked them and I can see myself making them again because they were so easy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Whitney's Vanilla Bean Caramel Apples

I wasn't going to post this yet, because I wanted to try it again but seeing that we're moving next week, "caramel apples: take 2" moved down the priority list. The caramel was yummy and unique and very chewy. Next time, I'll use a deeper pan and not heat it as high as the recipe calls for. My helper (Brandon) also accidentally stirred it once or twice and had to lift the pan off the burner for a minute since it was going to boil over - yikes! I don't know if this caused the caramel to harden quickly later, but it did. What we ate immediately was quite delicious and very chewy like Danielle mentioned. We also used the vanilla extract instead of the bean and weren't disappointed. Happy Fall although it's still 90+ degrees here everyday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Melanie W.'s Sweet Potato Mash

I don't normally like sweet potatoes, but these were good because the flavor wasn't too strong with the regular potatoes mixed in. I roasted 4 regular potatoes, but only used 3 because four seemed like too much. I baked for 2 hours at 35o degrees, and it was perfect for the sweet potatoes which I halved, but I had left the regular potatoes whole and they were still undercooked. So I had to cut them open a bit and I baked them another 30 minutes or so at 400 degrees. That helped, but I think I would rather start by cutting them into chunks next time. In the end my carrots were still very crunchy, so don't know what happened there. Right now I'm staying in a weakly furnished apartment, so I don't have a hand mixer and I had to go buy a masher to mash these. I didn't mash the onions with it because I didn't think they would mash well. Instead, I just poured in the juice/oil from my roasting pan to add more onion flavor. In the future I will surely use a hand mixer because I loved my potatoes whipped! My end result still turned out ok and they were really yummy!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winter-Vegetable Potpie with Cheddar-Biscuit Topping

Sometimes I get sick of eating meat or buying meat or thinking of dinners to make including meat. This is a great option for those times. It could be used as a main dish with something on the side or as a side dish.

for the vegetable filling:

4-5 medium carrots (peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 3/4" chunks)
1 1/2 pounds button mushrooms (trimmed and halved or quartered if large)
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (cut into 1" chunks)
3 large parsnips (peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1" chunks)
1 pound leeks (white and pale green parts only, washed well, cut into 1/2" moons)
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4 t. dried thyme
salt & pepper
3 cups canned vegetable broth
2 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 c. water

*I make this without the parsnips & leeks, knowing Parker wouldn't eat them.


for the cheddar-biscuit topping:

2- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
2 1/4 t. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground pepper
6 T. cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 c. buttermilk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Make filling:
In a bowl, toss vegetables with oil & thyme; season generously with salt and pepper. Divide between two rimmed baking sheets (I just used one). Roast 25 minutes; toss(if vegetables are sticking, sprinkle up to 1/4 c. water on each sheet). Roast until browned and tender, 20-25 minutes more. Transfer to a shallow 3-qt. baking dish. Raise oven heat to 450 degrees.

Meanwhile, make topping: In a large bowl, whisk together 2 c. flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with some pea-size lumps. Mix in buttermilk and cheese until combined. With a floured hand, knead dough against side of bowl until it holds together. If it is sticky, knead in up to 1/4 c. more flour.

In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Whisk in cornstarch mixture; boil 1 minute. Pour over vegetables; toss to coat. Drop small mounds of topping on vegetables; bake until brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; serve.

Martha Stewart

*Sorry, no picture!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Indoor Herb Garden

Does anyone have an indoor herb garden? I'm thinking I'll save quite a bit, by having one. I've seen some online, but I'm trying to decide the best way to start one. Obviously don't have a ton of space in my apartment. I'd like the most economical way, but want it to work well for me, too.

Suggestions? Thanks!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Larisa & Jessica's Baked Brownies (It was a team effort)



Larisa and I had to tag team this one because we were shacked up together for the better part of last week.  Which was probably a good thing because she is a much more informed baketress than I.

So we kicked these brownies into high gear.

Personally, I would give them two thumbs up. They were the best brownies I have ever had. Maybe I don't get out much.  We followed the recipe but Larisa got greedy and dumped in a bag of Chocolate Chips when I wasn't looking.  She's crazy like that.  I feel they were a smart addition even though it might be breaking the axiom that is,
The Perfect Baked Brownie.

Here is a great suggestion from the expert, Larisa. When you go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths, make sure to heat up the brownie for a couple of seconds in the microwave. She is absolutely right.  It makes something grand even GRANDER.

Oh, as a side note.  We also made the Salted Carmel Sauce a few weeks ago and served it over an authentic New York Style Cheesecake straight from Carnegie Deli.
Divine, just divine. It took two tries to get it right.  We came to the conclusion that we didn't let it boil long enough (was that right, Larisa?). The second time was much better.  We watched the coloring and used that as more of a guide than the actual cooking time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cami's Sweet Potato Mash

(Sorry no picture. I couldn't get one that looked half as good as everyone else's, so I gave up)

Yummy! I love this. I didn't want to wait 4 hours so I cooked them at 325 degrees for two hours and they came out perfectly. You could smell it just a few minutes after putting them in the oven. They have the consistency of mashed potatoes but a richer flavor that doesn't need gravy. Calder (my 11 month old) LOVED them and ate more than my husband and I combined last night. He also ate them for lunch today and probably would have eaten them for every meal if I would have let him.

I will be making these again. They would be great for Thanksgiving dinner!

LuAnn's Creamy Shrimp Noodle Skillet

I made this and it was good. Jeff seemed to quite like it and Simon even ate some. I didn't want to buy a 32 oz. brick of Velveeta so I used some sliced version which came in 16 oz. packs. I was also skeptical of Velveeta, like Cami, but when she said you couldn't taste it I thought I'd give it a whirl...cause I like shrimp and I like pasta. But I have a few questions about this recipe. What are the advantages of making white sauce with Velveeta rather than just heavy cream. Is is supposed to be easier or is it for flavor or for texture? I personally like the flavor of shredded Parmesan in my white sauce...plus some lemon...so I'd rather use that. Also, why does it call for half-and-half rather than heavy cream? Would half-and-half thicken without the Velveeta? Do you think this recipe has less fat? Anyway...there are a handful of ways to make white sauce and I've never heard of this one so I'm wondering what the advantages are. What do you all think? Did anyone else wonder? All in all a good recipe. Oh...and I made 1/2 a batch it served 2 1/2 mouths generously for 2 meals.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall is Here! Time for Caramel Apples!



This week's recipe is Vanilla Bean Caramel Apples on page 166.

I really wanted to do the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, but there appears to be a shortage of canned pumpkin puree. (I went to four stores and couldn't find any. One store employee said they've been out for weeks. I didn't know how many of you would be willing to make your own.)

These were pretty easy, and with good apples, they're pretty tasty. I used a vanilla bean, but I'm sure you could try it with vanilla extract (follow the maple extract instructions). World Market is a great place to get real vanilla beans for cheap. I got a packet with two vanilla beans for, I think, $4 (great place for other cool spices too!).

For dowels, I picked up some sturdy chop sticks at the grocery store. They were a little on the long side, but they worked great.

My caramel turned out to be a little too chewy. I don't think I overcooked it, but I would've preferred it to be a little on the runnier side. So if you don't like chewy caramel, err on the side of under cooking it rather than over cooking it.

I halved the recipe and it barely covered four large apples. Since I was halving it, I only used half of a vanilla bean, but I should've used a whole one. The vanilla bean smelled great, but the flavor wasn't very strong.

Overall, I was happy with the recipe. I don't think I've ever made my own caramel apples before, so it was fun to do. And caramel apples are the perfect treat to kick off Fall!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweet Potato Mash Crash

I had a failed attempt at the "mash" with tonight's dinner (pork instead of lamb since it was already in my freezer). I cooked the vegetables at 350 for a couple hours, and by then I felt like the veggies had shriveled and the outside had become overly cooked/firm. (Wouldn't recommend the baby carrots, which is all I had in my fridge.) I increased the temperature to quicken the process. It went downhill from there ... not having a masher and a $5 hand mixer were part of the problem, but I felt like the veggies weren't soft enough inside and that the outside had become too tough to mix easily. What went wrong? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Danielle's Braised Lamb & Sweet Potato Mash


I loved the sweet potato mash! I like that it had a mix of veggies in it, and the onion and garlic really added a lot to the overall flavor. We used a potato masher and left it coarsely mashed (with just butter - no cream), and I loved the texture. It made a ton so we had it again with dinner a couple nights later. It was just as good the second time around. Roasting has definitely become my cooking method of choice. No more boiling potatoes! I think this is going to be my go-to recipe for mashed potatoes.

We also made the leg of lamb. As LuAnn said, the lamb was pricey at $20 (from Costco), but that was for almost 5 lbs of meat. So we cut it in thirds and froze the other two-thirds to use another time. So really, just over $6 for four people isn't bad (although we actually could've fed six).

The lamb came out perfectly tender and moist. The red wine gave it a great flavor. We also put in fresh rosemary and thyme. I loved the taste of the rosemary in it. It was perfect. I would definitely make this again.



Whitney's Baked Brownies

This is my daughter, Rachel, and she said, "mmmm..." after she tried it! I thought they were pretty good. I liked the texture and the taste, but I couldn't help compare it to a $2 (on sale) box of brownie mix, which saves me time and money. However, if I need a good brownie-from-scratch recipe, then I'll come back to this one. Whenever I ate one, it seemed to feel a little greasy (hello, probably the butter) after devouring one, so I felt a little guilty eating more than 1, but they're brownies and you gotta live a little, right?! My only regret is that I didn't have any more vanilla ice cream in the freezer to eat with the brownies - my favorite!

p.s. Our furnished condo does not have a wonderfully furnished kitchen (i.e., had to buy measuring cups, spoons, a broom, and has only 4 bowls, 3 plates, you get the picture) so my cooking is still somewhat limited, so I'll only be popping in every once in awhile. But everything is looking very delicious!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sweet Potato Mash (and Leg of Lamb)

This week's recipe is from Hot Off the Garlic Press. {no pics cause hers are great.} HG is written by a friend who I met in Taiwan. Her husband was working there at the time. Currently they are living in Sydney, Australia working for the same company. I'm so impressed with her site! She is amazing and all these recipes are her own originals. I'm not sure why I didn't spend more Sunday afternoons at her house eating dinner...or even better...cooking with her. If I had only known! But we did other fun things like excursions to the fabric market and the bead store.

I'm going to be honest I've only made a few recipes from her site...only because they all sound so fancy that I've been intimidated. However, I've gained some cooking confidence lately and I realized she has 2 little kids just like I do and so far I'm finding her recipes are rather practical. I've made the spaghetti sauce/lasagna many times and I love it! The Herb Roasted Sunday Chicken is great. The herb butter is great to have around. This week I tried the Cornflake and Almond Encrusted French Toast and loved it. I've got the Chocolate Pancakes with PB Syrup (seriously can't wait) and the Roasted Butternut and Eggplant Stuffed Cannelloni (which I'll top with the Parmesan and Garlic Beschemel Sauce with Mushrooms) on my menu in the next couple weeks.

I was really intrigued by the Sweet Potato Mash that she posted a few weeks ago with the Red Wine Braised Leg of Lamb. Sweet potatoes are supposedly the most healthy vegetable as they have iron, calcium, fiber and vitamin A and C. I try to feed them to Jack everyday and I am so pleased when I can put them in to something tasty for the rest of us. I think I'll be throwing a few into any batch of mashed potatoes in my future cause these were so good!

So here is the recipe for this week with emphasis on the Mash. To keep with the spirit of things I also made the lamb. The lamb was a bit pricey at $20 for the leg, but it was delicious. I think I'll make this my traditional Easter meal. I had some new people in the ward over for dinner and I'm pretty sure they left thinking I was a good cook. Fooled them! ;) No, I'm getting there...there are cooks that have a great collection of recipes and there are cooks that can whip up a delicious meal without a script. I'm doing pretty well with the former and I aspire for the latter.

On the Mash...allow plenty of time for the veggies. Natalie said she put hers in whole for 4 hours under the lamb. Mine were probably 3 to 3 1/2 and they weren't quite done enough. But that was at 300F. Cut them up or up the temperature to make them faster like she says. I recommend leaning toward the generous side of her recommended proportions of butter, cream and garlic. Oh man...I just realized I forgot the onion. That would have been even better. Darn.

On the Lamb (if you are up for it)...I'm not sure how much wine (I used white rather than red cause I had it) she used, but I put in probably 1 1/2 cups. It was enough to cook it and it was nice and tender, but for some reason I only had a couple tablespoons of juice (after I took out at least 1/2 C of fat...I want one of the fat separators) so I didn't have much gravy.

And about me...

Do you have any pet peeves?
Probably most of them are around my house. Like my toothbrush already wet when I go to brush cause "a roommate" used it and plates with the food still on them sitting in the sink.

Any other hobbies besides being an amazing cook?
Knitting. I can sew pretty well, but I hate it. Cycling.

What is your favorite summer activity?
I haven't had a normal summer in a while since last summer I had Jack and this summer was in D.C. and the summer before that we moved. So I can't really think of anything...definitely not moving, which I've done that 6 of the last 7 summers. Probably cycling.

Are you a morning or a night person?
Morning. I'm a worthless mass of human body after 10:30p. Even watching a movie is pretty much miserable for me even a minute past 11p. I love mornings...but I don't like to start them until 6:30a.

Are you a go-go-go vacationer or a lie-on-the-beach vacationer?
A perfect balance of both...but if it's one or the other I'll take the beach.

What is your favorite store?
I used to think Anthropologie, but I'm sick of it...everything being Anthropolified and I can't afford anything there. So, I think I'd have to say Ace Hardware cause it's so close and I find all those little things I need. Believe it or not...I rarely go to Target.

What is your favorite beverage?
Water. Chilled or icey. With a good flavor...which is why I have a water cooler in my home so I always have good water. I think soda is pretty worthless.

If you had to go back to school, what would your major be?
Finance. Just because I wish I was more educated about it in general.



Cami's Baked Brownie

I really liked these. I made them exactly like the recipe said but I left out the espresso. I baked them for exactly 30 minutes and I actually liked how the middle was a little gooey. Mine were formed but fudgy, just the way I like them.

Jason is not normally a brownie eater but he loved these. That is really saying something for the brownies. I'll certainly make them again and next time maybe I'll try adding some extra ingredients like nuts and chocolate chips.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Melanie W.'s Chicken with Tomato, Feta, and Olive Relish


This was so full of color and flavor. I loved it, but then I also love feta cheese and kalamata olives. I did as Cami suggested and bought some from the olive bar. It was my first experience buying something from the olive bar, so I felt like a real cook and so grown up. :) I also did as Danielle did and added cucumber. It was perfect, and really made it like a greek salad. It went really well with the chicken. I could have gone a bit easier with the mint. It was my first time using fresh mint and so I didn't know how mild or strong it would be. My mother-in-law asked to have a copy of the recipe, so it was a hit!

Melanie W.'s S'more Nut Bars


I made these a couple weeks ago for make-up week, but forgot to post about it. oops. :)
I stuck pretty close to the recipe, but based on past comments I modified it just a bit. The chocolate was 3/4 milk chocolate and only 1/4 dark chocolate. I could have used a little higher quality chocolate to make it taste better but the grocery store I went to only had some cheap stuff. I used the mini marshmallows because I wasn't excited about having to chop up big mashmallows. I think I added a lot more than needed, and also added some on top to make it look yummier. Once it was all put together I threw the whole thing in the oven on broil for just a few minutes in order to get the marshmallows a little melty and roasted looking, like real smores.
I liked these alright, but thought they were too rich and didn't taste like real smores. I think the peanuts messed up the flavor too, but if there weren't any peanuts I think it would be too chocolaty. I made this for my dad's birthday and he didn't give a yay or a nay, so for him that probably meant he didn't like them. I don't think I'll make them again.

The Purple Foodie


There was a post last week about the Baked Brownies on The Purple Foodie. Check it out here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Whitney's Banana Chocolate Muffins

So I am somewhat settled in Arizona now and just checked out the Baked book from the library. (They didn't have it at the Orem, UT Public Library so I was without all summer - I told them to get with the times and get this book!) I'm excited to try a few tasty treats!

These were very yummy. I cook banana bread monthly, so these will be a good recipe to mix it up a bit. Hopefully I'll get to cooking those brownies sometime next week.

TGIF!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Danielle's Baked Brownies

Sorry, no picture. We actually made these a couple weeks ago, not knowing it was coming up in the rotation on the blog. And it didn't occur to me to take a picture.

These were really tasty brownies, but like Hyeyoung said, I don't know that I can say they're the best I've ever had. They had a unique flavor, and I can't put my finger on what it was since there weren't any unusual ingredients in them (I left out the espresso powder). But whatever it was, I liked it.

I was kind of annoyed that the recipe says not to overcook them because "an even slightly overbaked brownie is not a Baked Brownie." After 30 minutes, mine were still totally raw in the middle. I had to bake mine for at least an extra 10 minutes and they were still a little under done in my opinion.

I don't have a go-to brownie recipe, so I might make these again. I don't think this ends my search for a great brownie recipe, though.

Danielle's Chicken & Tomato Relish



This was a super easy, super tasty dinner. I don't make a lot of the same things twice these days, but I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up on our table again sometime.

As usual, I made some alterations. I was a little short on tomatoes, so I decided to add in cucumbers. I think the cucumbers went really nicely with the relish. The flavors meshed well and it added some crunchy texture. I think I'll make it the same way in the future. I also couldn't bear to shell out (or should I say, have Max's mom shell out) $8 for a jar of kalamata olives when it's not an ingredient I use regularly (or ever). So I got a $2 can of burgundy olives instead. I don't know how they taste different than kalamata olives, but I liked the flavor.

I loved the mint! The mint with the other flavors was fantastic. So fresh tasting. I'm always happy to have any excuse to use fresh mint.

This dinner gets two thumbs up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baked Brownies

I decided on the Baked Brownies for several reasons: first, I needed something that wouldn't take me 3 hours to make; second, I wanted something that my kids generally like; and third, I wanted to find out if the hype about these brownies was really all that and then some (I mean, they were one of Oprah's favorite things, after all...).

I baked them pretty much as the direction stated, except maybe I didn't let my eggs come completely to room temperature. And instead of espresso, I used instant coffee that I had bought a while back for something else but had apparently forgotten what it was for since I still had it in my pantry. I used Dutch-processed cocoa powder (more expensive than say, Hershey's, for example, but well-worth it for its absence of lumps, finer texture, and much darker color). I used Ghiradelli's 60% cacao chocolate pieces, which melted very smoothly with the butter. I don't think the eggs made a difference, although I think if they had been colder, it probably would have made the chocolate/butter/sugar mixture firm up when I added them. The coffee, on the other hand, gave them a little bitter taste, which no one mentioned (I offered them to friends we had over for dinner as well as several colleagues at work the next day). If I had espresso powder, I might try it to see if it makes a difference, but since I usually don't, I think I'll leave it (and the coffee) out next time. I baked mine for exactly 30 minutes--I was a little paranoid about overbaking it--and that resulted in a brownie that was very smooth, rich, and light in texture without being cakey (which I think the recipe wanted you to avoid). It was quite tasty with vanilla ice cream, especially when it still had a little warmth left in them. Everyone who tried them agreed that it was a very good brownie; unfortunately, no one thought it was the best brownie that they had ever had. Greg and I thought they were pretty good (after all, the picture above on the awesome Ikea kids' plate were the last 2 pieces left) but we wouldn't call them the best or our favorite necessarily. That said, I'd probably keep them in rotation with my other brownie recipes.

And onto the questions...

Do you have any pet peeves?
Who doesn't? But at the top of my list are people who smoke downtown right outside of office buildings...because who doesn't want to be smacked in the face with a big nasty cloud of smoke just as they are walking out of a building?

Any other hobbies besides being an amazing cook?
I like to dabble in a lot of different things...but the more consistent things are that I tend to quilt, sew and knit in the winter; do papercrafts (cards, scrapbooks) throughout the year; and garden, can fruits and make jams in the summer.

What is your favorite summer activity?
Going on vacation...I love a good road trip. I love to go pick fruit with my kids--we have been picking peaches (and canning them) for a few years now and we started picking blueberries and raspberries last year. This year, we picked pears and those were super tasty. I love to see them eat a huge peach with juices running down their front and eating berries by the handfuls. It makes me feel better about those occasional not-so-good eating days.
Are you a morning or a night person?
Motherhood has forced me to be more functional in the mornings, but I've always been a late-nighter. The worst is when I stay up way too late and my kids wake up way too early.

Are you a go-go-go sight-seeing kind of vacationer or lie-on-the-beach-all-day kind of vacationer?
Definitely the lie-on-the-beach-all-day. I don't like going on vacation and coming home feeling like I need a vacation.

What is your favorite store?
For most things, probably Target, although I find a lot of useful things at Costco these days.

What is your favorite beverage?
Ooh, Diet Coke. Icy cold.

If you had to go back to school, what would your major be?
It depends on what I wanted to do, I guess. I was a Political Science major at U of C and I totally loved it. I guess the question for me would be, would I go to law school again? Probably, although I might re-think litigation. It's not particularly family-friendly. I'm taking a mediation course at Northwestern this fall because I really enjoyed doing mediations in law school. Last fall, I really wanted to go to pastry school. But maybe it was just because I was 3 months post-partum, sleep-deprived, and hormonal.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Switch?

Hey, gals!

I'm just wondering if I could switch with someone for a later date. I'm scheduled to choose a recipe for October 5th, but I'm currently cooking nothing and barfing up everything--yay for babies, right? I actually haven't really even visited this blog recently because even pictures of food have the potential to do me in, but wow, Cami, that chicken looks mouthwatering. I wish I could make it right now. Anyway, any volunteers?

Thanks everyone!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins



I realize this recipe was up for review like a billion years ago, and I must confess, this is my third time making them.  We just eat them so fast.  By the time my camera battery is charged I am usually licking the last chocolate banana morsel off of my fingers.
Needless to say, these taste divine.
The only change I made was swapping out espresso powder for cinnamon. Same measurements.
You would seriously be doing yourself a mighty disservice by not giving these a whirl.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cami's Chicken with Tomato, Feta and Olive Relish

This is one of my go-to meals. It's quick, light and very flavorful. I love the combination of warm chicken with the cool relish. I thought of a few things while making it tonight.

1. I've used all different sizes of tomatoes. As long as they are small you can make them work.
2. You can use feta or goat cheese with great results.
3. Jason and I aren't crazy about kalamata olives, so I decrease the number I put in and chop them really small. They add a great flavor but I don't want to eat just olive. I normally buy them at the olive bar at the grocery store so I don't have to buy a whole jar.
4. You can vary the ratio based on your family's preferences. If you aren't big on feta but love tomatoes, just increase the tomatoes and decrease the feta. It's pretty versatile.
5. It tastes better if you make the relish ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge for a little while (at least 20 minutes). That gives it time to mix the flavors.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Tomato, Olive, and Feta Relish

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 1/2 ounces)

4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 to 7 ounces each)

Mix cherry tomatoes, olives, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, mint, and vinegar in medium bowl. Gently stir in feta cheese. Season relish to taste with salt and pepper.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush chicken on both sides with remaining 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill chicken just until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plates and slice, if desired. Top with relish and serve.


Cook's Notes: I often substitute goat cheese for the Feta. I prefer goat cheese in general so I try to switch it in whenever I can. I'm making it later this week so I don't have a picture to post yet.

Since I already answered this round of questions I won't bore you again. Have a great week and give this easy recipe a try!

Cami's Potato, Goat Cheese and Spinach Quesadillas

These are so tasty. I never would have thought to put these ingredients together and I don't think I would have used this recipe just by looking at the ingredients. We made them two nights in a row because they were so good! I'll definitely make these again.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Request

Can I make a suggestion? I think it would be helpful to put the name of the recipe in labels so that when we want to make a recipe from the past we can easily pull up all the posts for that recipe. Then it will be easy to read everyone's comments and suggestions. The initial poster should make the label and everyone will have to put in that exact label for it to work. What do you think?

Danielle's Potato and Goat Cheese Quesadillas



I have to say I was skeptical of the ingredients in this recipe... spinach, goat cheese, and potatoes with salsa and pepper jack? But I was pleasantly surprised. They worked together much better than I imagined, and these quesadillas tasted great! I'm really a fan of goat cheese so I was happy to have a new reason to use it.

For the tomatillo salsa, I used this Emeril recipe (although I tweaked it slightly*). I think it worked really well with these quesadillas. If any of you like homemade salsa, you should try this. Yum!




*I roasted the veggies on our bbq, and they smelled so delicious! I tried a similar recipe that called for boiling the veggies, but roasted tastes so much better! I also added an avocado to the salsa to make it thicker. You can't really taste the avocado, but I like the consistency.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Catch Up Week

Hi Ladies!

Unfortunately we won't be getting a new recipe this week. So I am going to suggest we all use this week as a catch up week. If there was a post you missed because you were on vacation or otherwise unavailable, use this opportunity to try it. And make sure you post about it!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Melanie W.'s Potato, Greens, and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

I have consistently been impressed with the recipe selections on here. These are no exception. They proved to be flavorful, filling, and a nice break from the normal boring stuff I tend to make. I'm not a huge fan of goat cheese, but I used it anyway and it was actually really good! Maybe I should use goat cheese more often. I did as Jeannie recommended and I used whole fresh baby spinach and put cheese on both the top and bottom. It stuck together pretty well. For leftovers I only used 1 tortilla and it flipped a little easier than 2 full tortillas, so I think next time I would use the fold-over method. I used red potatoes since that's what I had, and I forgot to get tomatillo salsa so we just used red salsa. They were yummy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sweet and Salty Cake

It finally happened. I made this crazy cake with the help of three others. Cami and Danielle weren't lying when they said it took awhile. We had fun though and it turned out pretty well but I think that it was a little too rich for me. Ta da!



Monday, August 31, 2009

Potato, Greens, and Goat Cheese Quesadillas


Normally, when I think of quesadillas I think of an easy, no-brainer meal option. Something quick to put on the table that everyone will enjoy. But I came across this recipe and loved the idea of goat cheese and a little more substance (and vegetables) to enhance this main dish.

At first glance, these seem like more work than what you'd expect in a quesadilla, but I think it's worth the effort. We've made them 3 times now and they've always been well-received.

Potato, Greens, and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
From Bon App├ętit | March 2008
Posted on Epicurious.com

yield: Makes 4

INGREDIENTS

1 1/3 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/3 cups (packed) coarsely grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese (5 to 6 ounces)
1 1/3 cups jarred salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
4 2/3 cups coarsely chopped stemmed mustard greens (from 1 bunch), divided
4 8-inch-diameter flour tortillas
3 ounces chilled fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 275°F. Steam potatoes until tender, about 8 minutes. Place in large bowl; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Toss to coat. Cool potatoes 15 minutes. Mix in Jack cheese*. Meanwhile, blend salsa and 2/3 cup (packed) greens in mini processor until greens are finely chopped.

Arrange tortillas on work surface. Divide remaining greens between bottom half of each. Top greens with potato mixture, then goat cheese and 2 tablespoons salsa mixture for each. Fold plain tortilla halves over filling, pressing to compact. Brush with oil.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas, oiled side down, in skillet. Brush tops with oil. Cook until quesadillas are brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to sheet in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 quesadillas.

Cut each quesadilla into 3 or 4 wedges. Serve with remaining salsa.

Cook's Notes:
  • I've never used Yukon Gold potatoes-- just russets-- and they've tasted great
  • We've tried it first with mustard greens and then with spinach leaves the next time and have liked them with spinach better
  • I've always made them flat using 2 tortillas per quesadilla instead of folding one, as the recipe says
  • *I didn't think of this before, but they would stay together better after cooking if you spread the pepperjack cheese out over the bottom tortilla, put the greens, potatoes (minus the pepperjack), goat cheese, and sauce on, and then sprinkled the remainder of the pepperjack on top before you put on the second tortilla*

Do you have any pet peeves?
Sadly, too many to name. But the worst is when people smoke outside our window. Then the smoke seeps into our apartment and stinks up the whole place. Yuck!

Any other hobbies besides being an amazing cook?
Is eating a hobby? I do love to eat, more than I like to cook, actually. But I also enjoy reading, singing, acting, going for walks on the beach, swimming, photography...

What is your favorite summer activity?
Swimming. Or anything to do with the water.

Are you a morning or a night person?
I would so love to be a morning person because they seem to be much more organized, but I am definitely a night person.

Are you a go-go-go sight-seeing kind of vacationer or lie-on-the-beach-all-day kind of vacationer?
I think that I like a little bit of both. If I'm going to a foreign country, I love to see as much as possible but also spend some time on the beach, by the pool, etc. if possible.

What is your favorite store?
Cost Plus World Market. Or maybe Target. It's a toss-up.

What is your favorite beverage?
Water. But I also love Vanilla Coke every once in awhile.

If you had to go back to school, what would your major be?
Not for any sort of practical reasons, but I would love to study theater and acting (I almost minored in them!).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Melanie W.'s Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits

It was nice to finally be able to make something on time! It probably won't be a regular thing for me for a while though, since we'll be on the move for the next couple months.

Anyway, when I first saw these in the cookbook I'll admit I was a bit surprised. They didn't seem to fit in with all the other sweets, and like Melissa said they don't really seem like a good breakfast food (unless you're looking for a quick way to get yourself going from the spicy kick they give you!) But I was happy to try them and try something different.

I decided to serve mine with turkey chili, since I had planned to make it anyway. That may have been a mistake, because it ended up being a bit too much spice in the end. I think they would go very well with a milder soup such as potato or corn chowder. My husband seemed to love them, as when we sat down to dinner he admitted he had already eaten 4 or 5!

I really like spicy foods and I also like chipotle pepper, but these still had to much spice for me. I used just under 1 Tbsp, but I think 1 tsp would have been plenty for me. My favorite part about them was the cheese!!! So delish. I would even make them again without any chipotle and just the cheddar. Serve those with some yummy chipotle flavored chili---that would be yummy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Danielle's Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits


I actually made these for the first time a couple of months ago. We liked them a lot, so I was glad to see it come up in the rotation.

I pretty much love anything with chipotle in it. We used canned chipotle peppers instead of powder both times I've made them. That works out well enough, but I think next time I'll try it with the powder instead so the flavor is more even. Also, Max thought they were too cheesy last time, so we used less cheese this time. I liked them both ways.

My only complaint about these biscuits is that they don't keep very well. They are great just out of the oven, but I really don't like them much after they've been sitting. Even later the same night they didn't taste nearly as good. I'll stick with making a half batch from now on unless I'm having people over and need a full batch.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits

I know an awesome picture on an awesome paper plate.

I decided on this recipe because I am a sucker for anything with chipotle and cheese. Since the first time I looked through this book it stuck out to me. Well, since I am pretty spacey I thought last week was my turn so I made them last week and they turned out horrible. They were flat like a cookie. When I went back through the recipe I don't think my error was in the amount of the ingredients. The two things I ignored was to use "tightly packed" cheese and I didn't notice the part where it said not to over mix the dough with the buttermilk. I am not a very experienced cook so I have no idea if this is what caused it, but maybe it did so the moral of the story is read the recipe.

Anywho, once I realized I had another week I decided I would try again. It went better this time, but I am not as big a fan as I thought I would be. I love spicy so I didn't mind how hot these are, but if you don't like spice I would recommend use less chipotle. Also I don't think these are really a breakfast food it would accompany a soup or salad better. I think these would be great with a chili, so probably more of a winter, fall food. Although I did not like them my 2 year old son, Lucas, ate two biscuits, my husband ate a few, and my house guest, LuAnn's husband, ate few. So I guess my expectations were too high. Bottom line I am 50/50 on whether I will make them again.
These are my first try, Chipotle Cheddar Cookies

Now for the questions:

Do you have any pet peeves? I have a ton and can't think right now, but the one I can think of is poor customer service.

Any other hobbies besides being an amazing cook? This is sad, but I love to watch tv, read, sewing, knitting (because I can watch tv while I do it)

What is your favorite summer activity? Going to the beach or swimming

Are you a morning or a night person? Neither, I am a middle of the day person.

Are you a go-go-go sight-seeing kind of vacationer or lie-on-the-beach-all-day kind of vacationer? A little of both. If there is a beach there I want to lie on the beach for at least one day.

What is your favorite store? Gap, Banana Republic... I have worked there for 12 years so it is easy to shop. Plus I get 50% off. If I didn't have the discount I would say Nordstrom for shoes and Anthropologie for clothes and Target for everything else.

What is your favorite beverage? Lately I have been loving Brazilian Lemonade, but the old favorite is Dr. Pepper

If you had to go back to school, what would your major be?
I couldn't decide while I was in school so I am not sure now. Maybe one of the hundreds I considered while I was in college: Chemistry, Business, Economics, History , Sociology, Fashion Merchandising, Engineering, Dietetics... I have lots of interests I better just get a library card.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Melanie W.'s Sour Lemon Scones

I know this recipe is from a long time ago, but I finally made them last week and I thought they were so good, so I wanted to write about them!

They turned out perfect for me- not too dry and just the right amount of lemon flavor. I used all the butter it called for, though like Danielle had said it's gross how much butter is required! When I formed the dough I thought it was super sticky and I thought about adding more flour, but I resisted and glad I did or else they would have ended up too dry. I made the candied lemon peal and I think it really added to the lemon flavor. It wasn't hard to make, just more tedious than anything. The lemon syrup was more watery than I liked, so I added a little powdered sugar to thicken it up some, then it turned into more of a glaze.

I ate mine with some strawberry preserves which complemented the lemon flavor really well! They were also a huge hit with my current houseguests and they wanted the recipe. I'd love to make these again sometime!