Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Danielle's Southern Biscuits

These were delicious! I tried some with poached eggs (my new favorite way to eat eggs) and some with butter and maple syrup. With eggs was good, but with butter and maple syrup was fantastic. I think I liked them better than pancakes with syrup. These might be a new go-to breakfast food for me.

I halved the recipe since it was just the two of us eating. I just used a glass to punch out my biscuits, and the diameter may have been more than 3" (not by much, though, I don't think), but I only got 3.5 biscuits! I wished I'd made the whole recipe. Maybe I didn't roll them out thin enough... Although it ended up being plenty for both of us. We were pretty full.

Does anyone have an opinion on how well these keep? I only wanted to make as much as we would eat that night because I've never had a leftover biscuit that I thought still tasted good. Cami, you said Calder had these for breakfast and lunch the next day. Did you try any of the biscuits the next day? How were they?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday Break

As Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching and everyone's schedules are picking up with holiday related activities we are going to take a break from delish. We will start up again in January. In the meantime, if you make any of the past recipes, feel free to post about them! We'd love to see what you make!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cami's Potato/Portobello Gratin

I chose to make the Potato/Portobello Gratin this week. I have to admit, I didn't love it. The mushroom flavor was a bit overpowering. All well. I think I will try it again without the mushrooms and maybe add some onions.

As a side note, if you have a KitchenAid mixer but don't have a shredder/slicer attachment put it on your Christmas list. It took about 4 minutes to shred the cheese and the potatoes. It was awesome!

Cami's Biscuits

I've never been a biscuit maker. I generally make rolls if I'm going to make a bread to go with dinner but I really liked these and could see myself making them again. They were quick, puffy and perfect with butter and honey. Calder requested them for breakfast with jam. Actually he requested them for lunch too. I have a feeling I'll be making these a lot.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jen's Smores Bars

These are one of my favorite things from the Baked cookbook. I love the mix of chocolate with the salty peanuts. Yum. I think I'll have to make these again soon.

Melanie's Baked Meatballs

These are awesome! So flavorful! I saved them to my recipe folder and would love to make them again. I used 1lb. ground pork and 1/2lb. ground beef (I had never used ground pork before), I added a little extra spinach (maybe 7-8oz.), and I needed a lot more breadcrumbs than called for to coat them (probably 1 cup instead of 1/4 cup). I don't have a kitchen scale so I just guessed how big to make them and I ended up with meat leftover after the muffin cups were filled, so I put the remaining meatballs on a cookie sheet. I liked baking them because they stayed fairly round. When I cook meatballs in a skillet they end up sort of square or triangle shaped. I think I'll try to bake my meatballs from now on!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This Spud's for You

One of my favorite foods at Thanksgiving is mashed potatoes. Yum!!! Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I chose the episode This Spud's for You from season 1 (I'm not sure what page it's on in the book). You can choose to make Mashers, Potato/Portabello Gratin, or The Baked Potato. I chose to make the mashers.

I don't have the book anymore (it's always checked out from the library when I look for it) so I'm not sure what it says about potatoes, but I watched the episode on YouTube and learned some interesting potato facts. I lived in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador for several months and potatoes were found everywhere there! All sorts of varieties (but they don't have any sweet potatoes!). Watching this episode made me wish I had tried cooking with more of the varieties while I lived there, but I tended to stick to red potatoes which are my favorite. I was happy to see that this recipe called for red potatoes. They just tend to hold up better and have a more appealing texture.

This recipe makes a lot of potatoes! I only used 6 red potatoes rather than 8, but I should have just halved the recipe. The online recipe says to cover the potatoes with cold water, but the episode I watched says to cover with hot water. I'm not sure which is best, but I used cold water because that's what I usually do. I think I cooked my potatoes a bit too long, but it made for easy mashing. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to mash the whole garlic cloves in the potatoes so I left them out and there was still plenty of garlic flavor.

These potatoes were alright, but not my favorite. They need to be dressed up a lot to give them more flavor. I only served mine with salt and pepper, but I should have put butter or sour cream in them as well. I usually whip my potatoes and I add lots of butter, salt, and pepper, and I think I prefer my potatoes that way.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maren's Baked Meatballs

On top of spaghetti . . .

What sold me on trying these was Jen saying you don't have to stand over the stove to cook them, you can just pop them into the oven. I didn't know meatballs could be so easy!

The next great thing about making these was that there was no question of how big the meatballs should be since Alton just has you measure each one. I really like that, since in the past my meatballs have seemed to be all different sizes no matter how much I eyeballed, and so I'd worry some were overdone while others could be underdone.

I used 1 lb. pork and 1/2 lb. ground beef also, and it was a nice combination. I left out the spinach, and didn't roll in extra bread crumbs (since I planned on putting them into sauce). I didn't have a miniature muffin tin so I was worried they would slump in the oven on a regular baking sheet, but they were fine. Very tasty and I'd eat them plain! I'll definitely be making these again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Melanie's Southern Biscuits

Let me first say that I usually hate making any sort of bread. Whatever I make usually never turns out right for me! Luckily, these were so easy to make that there really wasn't any way they could have gone wrong.  

I made mine 2 1/2 and 2 3/4 inch wide, and I got 12 from the recipe. The only thing I'd do differently next time is cook them about 3 minutes less. They were in the oven about 17-18 minutes, and I should have stuck closer to 15 minutes because they turned out slightly too crispy. Still, they puffed up nicely and tasted great with the beef stew I made.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Melanie's Butternut Squash Soup

I couldn't remember if I had ever eaten butternut squash soup, and since Lisa loved it I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't roast it the way Alton says to because I already had some leftover puree from another recipe I had made. Because I already had the puree, this was super fast and easy to make! The honey and nutmeg give it the perfect flavor. Butternut squash isn't my favorite soup so I don't think I'll make it very often, but, this was a perfect autumn meal.

I have really enjoyed making meals with winter squashes. Since I had never made or had spaghetti squash before, I went ahead and made some (just using a recipe from allrecipes.com). It was good, but I think I undercooked the squash. I'll have to try again!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cami's Swedish Meatballs

I chose to make the Swedish Meatballs for last week's recipe. I've never made meatballs before and was surprised how easily these came together. I was also surprised how cheap ground pork is. Who knew?

I found these to be really tender and moist with a flavorful exterior. The gravy is perfect and in a lot of ways it reminds me of meatballs from Ikea. I love Ikea meatballs, so it's a compliment. Calder often asks if we can go to lunch at Ikea because he loves them as well. He ate two servings of these. I'd say they were a hit.

Cami's Pumpkin Bread

I finally convinced Calder to cook his pumpkin. I never did convince him to carve a face into it, maybe next year. 

This bread was well worth the convincing. I love it. It turned out just perfectly. The flavor is awesome. It's moist throughout and the exterior was perfectly crisp. I'm signed up to bring pumpkin bread to a church meeting tomorrow so I thought I would double the recipe and make two loaves. I used the whole pumpkin. 

I also added a delicious topping which is a perfect addition to this bread. To make the topping you take 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter and mix them together using a pastry blender. Put it on top before baking. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Dough Also Rises

I love biscuits! And unlike bread or rolls, you don't think ahead to make them, since these mix up quickly and only take 15 minutes to bake--perfect time to set the table, toss a quick salad, or maybe get a head start on the washing up. I served these biscuits with lentil soup and they were quite good--but I am getting ahead of myself:

I chose The Dough Also Rises and tried Alton's Southern Biscuits (p. 42 in the book). I wanted to compare it to my mom's biscuit recipe, which I've been using up to now. I'd like to point out that the book recipe and the online recipe are slightly different: the one online calls for equal parts shortening and butter, while the book calls for a 2:1 ratio of shortening to butter. (If I'd realized the difference before I made them, I'd have done equal parts since I happen to adore butter.)

Biscuits should definitely be puffy, and my mom's biscuits never puffed very much, but the picture of Alton's looked nice and puffy. They didn't disappoint, either--they puffed way bigger than my old biscuits. Since the flavor is very similar, I think I might switch recipes based on puffiness alone!

I used a pastry cutter instead of my hands to to work the fats in, which was fine, but I wished I'd used a rolling pin to roll the dough after it was kneaded, because I found I couldn't press very evenly so some biscuits were thick and some thin. Alton says to make a round that is 1" thick and I made mine between 1/2" and 3/4" but I only punched 10 biscuits and one of them was runty. That could just be the nature of biscuits, though. I don't come out with the same number each time with my old recipe either.

My kids loved to help me punch them out and love to eat them too. I served the leftovers to my husband the next morning with Alton's Sawmill Gravy (p. 49), since he's been asking me for a long, long time to make him that breakfast. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Danielle's Baked Meatballs

These were delicious! I didn't end up making a sauce to go with them as I planned to last night, but they were even good plain. They'd be great in spaghetti sauce, though, so I'm going to try that with my leftovers that are in the freezer.

I also couldn't get ground lamb at the local Vons, so I used half pork and half beef. Maybe I'll pick up some ground lamb at Costco for next time. In the book, Alton says his wife makes them with ground turkey to make them healthier -- and he says they definitely taste like it. If I hadn't read that, I would've gone for the ground turkey also probably. That's my default. I'm sure they would've been a lot drier with turkey instead of beef and pork, but I might still try them with turkey next time because hey, it's healthier.

And as Jen did, I also used the whole 10 oz. of spinach. I don't think it detracted from the meatballs at all. In fact, you couldn't really taste it so certainly no harm done.

Max and I both really liked these meatballs, and they were really easy to make. I can definitely see us making these again.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Great Balls of Meat

You can find the episode on the Food Network HERE.

This episode comes from the Middle Years cookbook, which I have, so I thought I'd scan the "Knowledge Concentrate" section and post it for anyone who is interested. Sorry, the edge of the page is cut off a bit.

Click to enlarge

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Found It.

In 2003 I had Butternut Squash Soup for the first time in my life at Einsteins Bros. Bagels.

It changed me for life.

Since then, I've wanted to find a recipe I could make at home that was as good as theirs.

I can't believe I found it on the first try. Awesome.

Thanks Catherine for picking Squash Court.

Alton's recipe is so so sooooo good.

Mine turned out just a tad thicker than I'd like. Next time I will add more liquid. And I didn't measure exactly, but I think I put more pepper in than the recipe calls for.

So yummy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jen's Baked Meat balls

I made Alton's baked meatballs from the great balls of meat episode.

I couldn't get a half lb of ground lamb so i used 1 lb pork and 1/2 lb ground beef. I also used the whole 10 oz pkg of frozen spinach. Instead of the 5 oz that was called for in the recipe.

The kids thought it was too spicy but there was only 1/4 tsp of red pepper flake. I thought they were pretty good. It was interesting idea to make them in a mini muffin pan. I like baking meatballs as I'm impatient to cook a large amount in a pan on the stove top.

I will post my pictures tomorrow.

Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Posting this week from "Great Balls of Meat" episode

I will be using the Baked Meatballs recipe and posting my findings tomorrow.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Danielle's Squash Dumplings

This was kind of a weird recipe for me. In the end, the dumplings tasted pretty good. But the process was off.

Alton says at the beginning of the recipe (in the book) that this was not a favorite with viewers, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. The biggest complaint in the online reviews seemed to be that the dough was really wet and required way more flour than called for. In the book, Alton added weights to the amount of squash and potato you need, presumably to address the wetness issue. I weighed my ingredients, but I made a mistake and used double the potato I was supposed to (I was making a half batch and forgot to halve the potato). I don't know if that's why my dough ended up so loose, but like many of the online reviewers, I had to add TONS of extra flour... and I still had a wet dough that was difficult to work with.

After adding lots and lots of extra flour, I decided I better stop adding more because I was sure I had already overworked the dough. There was no way I was going to be able to roll out the dough so I just grabbed clumps of dough, rolled it in my hands, and plopped it in the boiling water.

My dumplings were kind of tough, but they tasted pretty good. I loved the sage flavor, but it was overpowering when I got an actual piece of sage in my bite. I think when I make these again (I have lots of dough still in the fridge), I'll add the sage to the butter while it browns but then skim it out before adding the dumplings.

One of the online reviewers said she squeezed her squash with paper towels before mashing it to get rid of excess water. She said she was able to get a good texture just with the amount of flour called for in the recipe. I wonder why Alton doesn't say to do this in his recipe...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Squash Court

This week's recipes come from Episode 65 - Squash Court. I love, love, love squash, although I don't actually have very many different squash recipes. My favorite is yellow squash and zucchini fried up with onions and bacon. Mmm! Those are summer squash, though, and with winter approaching it's harder to find, so I've switched to winter squash. I'm very excited to try acorn squash, as I've never before known what to do with it. But for today, since I happened to have spaghetti squash in the fridge, I went with the tried and true.

I'm always surprised when I hear people say they've never eaten spaghetti squash before, or only with spaghetti sauce on it. My parents grew it in their garden, so we ate it a lot. Unfortunately, I've never learned how to tell if it's good or not before I cook it. I've had bad luck with squash I buy at a regular grocery store, so if you're going to try this, go to a produce store or farmer's market. This was one of my unlucky times. I ended up cooking it about twice as long as Alton Brown suggests, and it still didn't get all the way soft. Still, it had a very good flavor. I added butter, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese, as recommended. I hadn't try cheese before. I couldn't taste it at all, so I won't bother in the future.

And, since it's almost Halloween, I thought I'd include the most famous squash: pumpkin! We carved our jack-o-lantern today. My four-year-old designed the face herself. 

I toasted the seeds with butter, sugar and cinnamon. I didn't bake them long enough for my taste, but my daughter and husband sure liked them!

Maren's Pot Roast

I am inclined to agree with Danielle that pot roasts are invariably pot-roasty--however I think this one had a couple of ingredients that made it just a little different from ones I've made before: the pearl onions and the tomato juice/vinegar combination. The onions were a definitely a nice change (they seemed sweeter too) and the tomato juice helped add flavor and tenderness. Definitely go for frozen pearl onions, though. I just bought some dry from the produce section but you have to boil them to peel them so they seem to add a lot of extra work for something you want to just throw in the slow cooker.

I used my slow cooker as well (low for 8 hours). I didn't brown my meat first, I just chucked it in there with the veggies, but it was tender enough to just be served up with a spoon--no carving required.

My husband observed that perhaps what makes a pot roast nice is eating it infrequently, so it will probably be a while before I make it again, but when I do, I'll go back to this recipe.

This week

I am under the weather and am supposed to post today. Is anyone ready that they can switch with me? Although I have a funeral the first weekend in Nov.

Sorry No one wants me to cook today and I don't really get to the rest of the week.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Catch up Week

We are having another catch up week! Feel free to make anything from the past this week and post about it.  We have adjusted the schedule so it now looks like this:
October 24: Jen
October 31: Catherine
November 7: Maren
November 14: Melanie W.

Please make sure you take note of your new day and are ready to post when it comes!  We can't wait to see what you choose. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Danielle's Pot Roast

Our dinner conversation the other night --

Danielle: "This roast is pretty good, but I can't say it's the best I've ever had."

Max: "Can you say any roast is the best you've ever had? Isn't every roast practically the same as every other roast you've had?"

Danielle: "No.. well... Ok maybe you've got a point."

As I thought about it, I couldn't distinguish between roasts I've had based on taste. Really, the only thing that has determined a good roast for me is how it's cooked (i.e. has it cooked long enough to be falling apart). In that respect, I only did an ok job with this roast. I cooked it for about 4 hours at 275 degrees, and I thought it needed more time.

I was going to use my crock pot like Cami did, but my crock pot wasn't big enough. My Vons didn't have a good selection of chuck roast, and the only thing I could get was a 3.5 lb boneless roast. So that plus all the veggies was too much for my slow cooker. So I put it in a large stainless steel pot and roasted it in the oven.

I would've liked to try the foil pouch method that Alton Brown uses, but I didn't have heavy duty foil and I had my hands pretty full as it was that day. I suppose my roast may have cooked more effectively with the foil pouch, but I don't know that I'll ever get around to trying it out.

The things we really liked about this roast recipe (and that set it apart from other roasts) were the pearl onions and the fresh thyme. I think the fresh thyme is what makes this recipe.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Danielle's Baked Sugar Cookies

I would've make these cookies when the recipe came up originally but I had just made sugar cookies with a different recipe. I haven't made sugar cookies again until yesterday. Actually, Max made them, but I can review them.

I thought the cookies tassted pretty good, but I thought they were a little too soft. They tended to fall apart. Max and I also agreed that they needed more sugar. I know a lot of people don't like their cut-out cookies to be too sweet because you're just going to put frosting on them, but we say bring on the sweetness. I mean, they are sugar cookies. I think a sugar cookie should be sweet enough to eat on its own without the frosting.

The dough was a little difficult to work with the first time we tried. We chilled ours for somewhere between three and four hours, and it got too soft by the time we had the dough rolled out and cut. We had a hard time getting them on the cookie sheet. However, Max made another batch today after the dough had chilled overnight and he said they were a lot easier to work with.

As you can see in the picture, we didn't made the lemon glaze frosting. We like traditional, butter and powdered sugar frosting. To us, sugar cookies just aren't real sugar cookies without a big thick layer of thick sugary frosting.

This was a decent sugar cookie recipe, but I think I'll stick with my other recipe that is my current favorite.

Pot Roast

The recipe this week comes from Episode 49, season 4 A Chuck for Chuck. You can find a recipe here but it is different from the one in the book. He explains in the book that he received lots of feedback that the original recipe was weird. It has raisins and olives. I stuck with the recipe in the book but next time I will probably add the raisins and cumin. I love cumin. I would love to know how it tastes with olives and raisins.

My husband loves pot roast. Me, not so much. I generally make it a few times a year because I know he loves it, it's easy and cheap. So, I thought this was a good choice. I loved the pearl onions and I think the tomato juice adds a nice flavor.

I made mine in a crock pot. So easy. The meat just fell apart and was very juicy. I must say it was the best pot roast I've ever made and probably the best one I've ever eaten. Oh and he thought it was great, of course.

Cami's Crepe Quiche Lorraine

This was my first attempt at crepes. They always seemed so fancy and hard. They are not hard. In fact I was a little surprised by how easy they are. I made the savory ones using spinach, oregano, thyme and a little cumin. They were delicious alone but made so much better with bacon, eggs and cheese inside.

I forgot to put the cheese in the middle so I just sprinkled it on top. I think it tasted great. I had a lot more egg mixture than crepes. Next time I will probably double the crepes or half the eggs. Calder isn't a big fan of onions so I made his with bacon, cheese and eggs without the crepes. He loved them. I poured those right into the muffin tins. It was the perfect Sunday morning breakfast.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Crepe Expectations.

I just love to use my blender. Love it.

When I see a recipe that calls for using it, my insides give a little "Wahoo!"

I have always heard of crepes. I've had them once at a friends. But it's one of those foods that I'm intimidated to make for some reason. This was a good opportunity for growth. Hope you enjoy them.

The other recipes are Crepes, Mushroom Crepe Cake, and Crepe Suzette.

The Lorraine was absolutely fantastic. You should make that one. So tasty, savory, and pure enjoyment. I'm not over selling it, I promise.

I followed the directions and it made 9 crepes. About 1/3 of the flour was wheat. I used 1/4 cup of batter for each crepe. The quiche batter was more than 6 crepes worth of filling. With the extra, I made little quiche cup cakes for my toddler. Their idea of how many servings the recipe makes is off.

I also had to add about 10-15 minutes on to my baking time. I have stoneware (boo) that makes life harder.

I will definitely makes these again.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Last Rotation Change

I'm sure you've noticed but there wasn't a recipe this week. I hope you enjoyed the week off. We'll resume with the recipe selecting tomorrow with Lisa choosing a recipe. This means that everyone else will be pushed back a week. I know that works out better for a few of you anyway. Check the recipe rotation page if you have any questions.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Melanie's Angel Food Cake

...or should I say Disaster Food Cake?

They said it's fool proof, but I proved them wrong! I honestly don't know what happened. I followed the recipe exactly! I even watched the online episode as I made it to make sure I did everything Alton did. I was just going to use a bundt pan but happened to find a regular tube pan at a thrift store. I even bought a sifter since I didn't have one. I let the egg whites warm up to room temperature. I carefully folded in the flour/sugar mixture. I let it cool upside down. The only thing I did different was use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour (and I subtracted 2 Tbsp. of the all-purpose because I read that was an appropriate substitution). I don't think that alone would cause my cake to fall and taste like an omelet. It was so dense and eggy! Maybe I didn't beat the egg whites long enough? After baking for 35 minutes and checking its doneness with a skewer I put the cake back in the oven for about 8 minutes longer because it was still gooey in the middle. Maybe poking a hole and putting it back in the oven let all the air out of the cake? Whatever happened, it was a big disappointment. This was meant to be for my husband's birthday. Looks like he'll have to settle for a Duncan Hines cake instead. I'd like to try this again, but I'm hesitant so I might just give up on making homemade angel food cake for now!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Catherine's Very Garlicky Greens

I was excited about the garlic selection because I've been wanting to learn how to cook greens. I had some once a long time ago that I really liked, but haven't had them since. I bought collards because they looked better than the mustard or other greens.

Don't they look pretty? The recipe was really easy to make. I used 7 garlic gloves, which was too much, but it still had a really good flavor. The collard greens were rather bitter, though. Has anyone had other greens before that they would recommend? I would totally make this again if I could find something a little milder. I even think it would be good with spinach. I would recommend cutting the amount of garlic in half, though. Nobody in my family ate it (besides me), but I wasn't expecting them to.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Newer Rotation Updates

I've made a few more changes to the recipe selecting rotation. Check it out here to see when you choose a recipe.

Cami's Angel Food Cake

Even though I totally didn't follow the instructions my angel food cake still tasted good. I missed the step where you divide the sugar in half and mix only some with the flour. Then I missed the part about whipping the egg whites with just sugar until it made peaks. Well, I threw the whole flour mixture in with the egg whites and away we went. I never got peaks but I guess I shouldn't have expected to. I ended up with a more dense cake but since I used a bundt pan (I don't have an angel food cake pan) it worked out. Last time I made angel food cake it overfilled the bundt pan and made a mess of my oven. At least with this I didn't have to clean my oven. And oddly enough my husband said this is the best angel food cake he has ever had.

I'm going to try again.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Eats 2: The Middle Years

For anyone who's interested, the next cookbook in the Good Eats series is out! I got my copy yesterday, and I'm so excited to look through it.

Strangely, Amazon still says it's on pre-order and that it's coming out on the 27th, but like I said, I already got mine. So hop on over to Amazon and get your copy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Eats Recipe Rotation Round 2

We've updated the recipe rotation for the next round. Check it out HERE. If that date doesn't work for you, please let us know and we can switch things around.

Cami's Poached Eggs

I should really call this Jason's poached egg. He has used this recipe about 6 times since we started using the Good Eats cookbook. He loves this and I do too. Before this I was a scrambled eggs girl. I didn't really have much interest in anything else. I guess if something is good, why change it. I'm now excited to try a few other ways to prepare eggs. We've been wanting to try using salsa to poach the eggs and make huevos rancheros. Has anyone ever done that?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Danielle's Poached Eggs

Inspired by Alton Brown's suggestion of eating poached eggs on BBQ pulled pork, we decided to eat ours on shredded BBQ chicken. It was delicious!

I was excited to see this episode in the rotation because I've been wanting to try poached eggs ever since I saw the Good Eats episode about eggs benedict. I wanted to try eggs benedict this week, but I haven't been to the store yet to get the ingredients. That will show up on my menu very soon though. Anyway, I thought poached eggs were supposed to be difficult to make, but these were very easy. Ours didn't all turn out very pretty, but they tasted good.

We made several eggs at a time, so we followed the wide saute pan method. I want to try the sauce pan/whirlpool method sometime. I'm interested to see how the eggs come out differently. Also, I'm not going to cook mine as long next time. I like my yolks a little more runny -- ours came out more like soft boiled eggs.

The Egg Files III: Let Them Eat Foam

This week's episode only has one recipe -- angel food cake. We had a bunch of extra egg whites left over from something else we made, so this was the perfect choice. It's pg. 224 in the book, and you can find the recipe online here.

This recipe gets excellent reviews on the Food Network. A bunch of people said it was fool proof, and I'm inclined to agree. I did a few things differently than the recipe called for and mine turned out great.

Here are the things I did differently --
  • I didn't have cake flour, so I used all purpose flour and substituted 2 Tbsp of it with corn starch (got the idea from one of the comments on the recipe).
  • My eggs were straight from the fridge. Someone told me recently that she's never been able to tell the difference between whipping cold eggs vs. room temperature eggs. But to be safe, I put my egg whites in my mixing bowl and put it over a bowl of hot water to warm them a bit.
  • I used my stand mixer instead of a hand mixer, and it worked out fine.

I used vanilla extract in my cake. I ended up baking mine for a few minutes extra to make sure it was done in the middle. Also, I like it a little extra browned on top (that's the best part!). This cake was delicious. I love the texture and the flavor. And it was easy to make. I can't say it was super quick, but I wasn't very organized when I was making it. It wasn't too bad though. It didn't take me as long as most Baked recipes!

Anyway, if you like angel food cake, this is a good one. Yum!

Tasty Peanut Chicken.

This chicken recipe was good. It was really good, but I don't know why I'm not interested in making it again. Too many steps maybe? I'm kind of in a cooking rut and all about the easy.

Every one liked it. The salsa was sweet and pretty.

Very visually appealing meal.

Flan is Good.

It was so yum I want to go make more. My husband loved it. The kids too. All who touch this, love this.

I used too deep of cups to cook it in. Oh well. It didn't look as good as others, but it all gets chewed up anyways.

I will so make this again.

I made homemade butterscotch for the topping.

I highly recommend it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Danielle's Big Squeeze Grilled Cheese

No picture. I forgot.

I decided to give the clarified butter a shot so that someone could give an opinion on it. I figured that since I didn't have to stand there and watch it the whole time, I didn't mind how long it took to make. I'm not sure if I did it right because mine didn't come out totally clear (it was pretty muddy looking). I would've had to strain it through cheese cloth or something to get all the burnt butter particles out of it.

But that aside, it worked. Our bread browned nicely and didn't burn. I don't know that I can say it was worth it. I guess if I made grilled cheese often, I would keep some clarified butter in the fridge (but I don't).

One problem we had is that we only have one cast iron pan. For the other pan, we used a heavy bottom stainless steel pan. The pans didn't heat the same, so the top pan was hotter than the bottom pan and we had to turn the heat back on to get our cheese to melt all the way.

We used smoked gruyere and medium yellow cheddar on challah bread. I really liked the sweetness of the challah bread with the cheese. And I loved the addition of the mustard. It was a good sandwich. But like Maren said, I didn't feel so good a little while after eating it. I think that kind of cheese intake will be a pretty rare occurrence for us in the future.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mission: Poachable

Choosing to poach eggs was rather a spree in self-indulgence on my part, since no one in my house, besides me, would even think of eating one. I should be more sympathetic, since it's only in the last year or two that I came around to anything other than a solidly cooked yolk.

But eating eggs Benedict for brunch at a local restaurant has forever altered me, and I've been wanting to try poaching eggs on my own for a while.

The result was a serviceably poached and decently tasty egg, but I think I'll have to try a few more times (maybe try a deeper pan--I skimped too much on depth since I was poaching only one egg). I think part of the charm of a poached egg is how they look before you stab them with your fork, and mine was a little on the sad side.

Ideally I'd eat a poached egg over a spinach-and-crispy-potatoes salad, but this I time I made do with toast, and sprinkled some leftover Gouda and Gruyere from the cheese sandwiches over it.

Find this and the other poaching recipes here, or on page 187 of the book.

Maren's Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Terribly unappetizing, I know! (I did attempt a photo of a more successful sandwich, but it was too washed out to use.)

Q: Who can ruin a cheese sandwich in 5 seconds flat?
A: Maren!

The making of these sandwiches didn't go very smoothly, as you will have guessed already. I decided to skip the butter clarification as well, but I really regretted not having at least melted it--so after the first disastrous sandwich, that's what I did.

Secondly, I forgot the 'kill the heat' part of the instructions. Oops. The pan was so hot that not only the bread scorched but the pan as well (and I'm not sure it will ever recover).

However, after a few minutes and feeling calmer, I tried again. It turned out that the cheese inside the burnt sandwich wasn't even melted much, so I peeled the ruined bread away and re-used the rest of the sandwich (which made me feel better).

In an effort to keep a long story from getting too much longer, I'll just say that the rest of the sandwiches were edible--tasty, even (if amazingly ugly)--and while I may not really know what to do next time, I definitely know several things NOT to do. My most successful sandwich was squashed with heavy pan and then flipped (per Catherine's method). The traditional method of no squashing over regular heat didn't melt all the cheese. And may I say that 3 oz. is a LOT of cheese for one sandwich? While I enjoyed the flavors of the two cheeses (smoked Gouda and Gruyere) immensely, I paid for it with a stomach-ache later.

Still, the taste of these is hard to resist, so I'll probably have to try again sometime.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Melanie's Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I always love a grilled cheese sandwich. My usual choice of cheese is cheddar so it was fun to try new cheeses. I used the Gouda/Gruyere combo. I love both these cheeses so I thought it was really yummy, especially with the dijon mustard. The only thing is I don't often buy good cheese so I had a hard time paying the high price for just a few sandwiches.

I decided to try the double skillet cooking method but my bread also stuck to the bottom of the top pan. I wasn't using cast iron skillets so maybe the bread won't stick to cast iron? I decided to use my usual old-fashioned cooking method, keeping the pan on the heat and flipping with a spatula. They turned out fine to me.

Also, there was no way I was going to sit and cook butter for 30-40 minutes to clarify it just so I didn't have burnt brown spots on my bread, so I skipped that step. I know Alton says it's worth it, but to me it didn't seem worth it. I did find it interesting to learn about clarifying butter though because I had never heard of that before.

Overall, these sandwiches were really tasty and a nice treat from our usual grilled cheese, but I'll probably stick with my cheddar cheese in the future, mostly due to cost factor. I'll save the gouda and gruyere for more substantial meals!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jen's Guacamole

I tried Alton's guacamole recipe. It was good. I thought the cumin added a nice smoky note to the recipe but I have to say that I prefer Rick Bayless' recipe.

Here's the link to Rick's version in case you want to try. http://www.kalamazoogourmet.com/rbme160.php

I took the guacamole to a family party that took an hour so i just put in a big plastic bowl for transport...sorry its not too pretty ;)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Maren's Garlic Cloves + Chicken

My husband extremely fond of roasted chicken but requested that I prepare it in the traditional style, so here's what I did different from the recipe:
  • left the chicken whole
  • no pre-cooking on the stove
  • poured about 2 Tbsp. of oil (I think 1/2 c. would've been way too much) in the bottom of the pan before popping the chicken in the oven, in addition to rubbing the bird itself down with oil as the recipe says to
  • cooked about 60 min. at 475°F, basting every 20 minutes or so
The chicken turned out very nicely! It was one of the better roasted chickens I've done--and I don't do it that often; it's a special occasion-type dish for us. Roasting garlic along with it is a great idea for today's supermarket chickens that are perhaps not as flavorful as their eaters would like. Maybe I'll try to work this recipe in a bit more during the winter--it is definitely a cozy dish, and very easy to do. (Plus I love to make chicken broth with bones and skin after the meat's all eaten up and have chicken noodle soup!)

For Whom the Cheese Melts I

This week's episode is For Whom the Cheese Melts I (page 82 in the book). We're big fans of grilled cheese sandwiches here, so the promise of "1 simple, perfect sandwich" was very tempting. There were several differences in this recipe to the way I usually make them. First, Alton Brown suggests using two cheeses, one hard and one soft. I used smoked Gouda and Gruyere. Second, the recipe calls for Dijon mustard and black pepper. I'm not a big fan of either, so I was a little skeptical. Finally, you're supposed to heat up two skillets, then turn them off before putting the sandwich between them to be pressed flat and cooked from both sides at once.

As you can see, there were a few problems. My bread stuck to the bottom of the top skillet, so it fell apart as I was taking it out. Also, the bottom slice of bread was almost completely burned. So for the next two sandwiches I didn't bother preheating the skillets, and I only left the one on top on for a minute or two to flatten the sandwich, then just flipped it to cook the top. Those came out perfectly. I didn't get a picture because, hey, we were hungry, and who wants a cold grilled cheese sandwich?

Of course, the most important thing is how it tasted. I would say they were just about perfect. The smoky cheese flavors and the Dijon mustard were fantastic together (I couldn't taste the black pepper). I'll definitely be making these sandwiches again.

P.S. I didn't clarify the butter. I just can't bring myself to care that much about butter. Although I suppose if I had maybe the sandwich wouldn't have stuck.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cami's 40 Cloves & A Chicken

This was another hit at our house. It was easy, convenient and had very few ingredients. Although it takes a while to cook the hands on time is minimal. I also bought my chicken pre-divided. The cost seemed to be the same, so why not? I do have one little tip that you may all know already anyway. When peeling the garlic, lay the blade of a large knife horizontally to press down on the garlic until you hear a pop. That is the peel breaking. This makes it much easier to peel.

I never buy chicken with skin or bones. I was surprised how cheap it is when you buy it as a whole chicken. I probably won't switch my ways but I will make this recipe this way again. I did take the skin off one of the breasts because I don't eat the skin and thought it might be easier before I cooked it. This was a mistake. That piece was much drier than the other ones, so in the future I'll just leave the skin on to cook and then remove.

I really enjoyed taking the garlic and spreading it on french bread. I thought it tasted wonderful as did my husband. He ate this for dinner last night, lunch today and dinner again tonight, so I think he likes it.

I wasn't sure if my 12 inch pan could go in the oven. I want to get new pans sometime in the future so I figured if I ruined the pan that would be a good excuse to get a new one. Unfortunately/fortunately the pan did just fine.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Danielle's Flandango

I LOVE flan. I was excited when Cami picked this episode. I've made and had flan a number of times before and this was as good as any I've had. The texture was perfect. And besides the caramel, it was super easy to make. The only deviation I made from the recipe was that instead of half & half, I used half whole milk and half heavy cream. Half & half is just milk and cream anyway right? I figured I didn't need to buy cream AND half & half.

I did all of mine with caramel. I'm interested in how it would turn out with chocolate in the bottom, but I didn't want to make chocolate sauce in addition to caramel. For the caramel, I used the brown sugar caramel sauce recipe in the Baked book. I messed up the consistency (I still haven't perfected my caramel making methods), but it worked out just fine for the flan. And it tasted great. This recipe is a keeper.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cami's Salsa

Like Maren I love fresh salsa but haven't ever made it myself. This was really good! I used the recipe in the book and was very happy with it. This makes a ton! I think we'll be eating it all week. I need to buy more chips.

We had baked potatoes for dinner tonight and this is how I always eat my baked potatoes: potato with cheese and salsa on top. Yummy! Sometimes I throw in some sour cream. You should all try it sometime.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Maren's Fresh Salsa

This was my first time making salsa from all fresh ingredients. I think fresh salsa is always so pretty, and this one was no exception despite that it was made by me. :)

It tasted good too! I was anxious it might be quite spicy, but it isn't. (I love spice but my comfort threshold is quite below my husband's.) Melanie mentioned that the online recipe is different and I'd recommend using that one--that's what I'll do next time. The spice factor for this salsa is all in the dried chiles you use. I didn't have dried ancho chiles, only dried chipotles, so I used that and we really liked the flavor. I needed to do a bit of tinkering before the overall taste was right, but ended up using about 1 Tbsp. of chili powder too (I used Chile 3000 from penzeys.com, which I love (the chili powder and Penzey's!)).

We ate this salsa for dinner over slow-cooker chili and it was absolutely delicious. It tasted better that way than with just tortilla chips, although it's definitely good that way too.

My husband is pretty much Salsa Fiend Incarnate so the leftovers didn't last long. This is a great summer treat when tomatoes are in season, so I'll be making it again!

Jen's 40 Cloves and a Chicken

The recipe is found on page 238 in the book. Here is the link to the recipe online, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/40-cloves-and-a-chicken-recipe/index.html
I did make it as it was stated there only I did not cut up my own chicken, Sorry Alton. I did take the faster route and bought it that way from the store.

He says to use some of cooked garlic to spread on bread but it was a bit much for me. Although the chicken was moist and flavorable.

Out of the 6 of us eating only my nephew was slow to actually pick up his fork. But then again he is 4 ;).

Hope everyone likes this one.

"The Bulb of the Night" episode

Later Today I'll be posting a recipe from "The Bulb of the Night" episode. I have chosen 40 cloves of garlic and 1 chicken recipe. I have made a version of this recipe when I was in High School and I remember it being a lot of work! This one doesn't seem as a complex but will see later today.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Catherine's Onion Dip

Hi everyone. Thanks for letting me join your cooking blog. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with my husband and four-year-old. I love to cook, and I'm looking forward to trying new recipes.

I decided to start with the onion dip. I didn't know how much a pound of onions was, but after reading the previous comments, I decided to use two large onions and hope it wasn't too much. It probably wasn't too much, but it was definitely enough.

I tried it with both veggie chips and pita chips, and honestly, I just didn't like it (I never understand how I can love all the ingredients, but not the combined result). But I've never been a big fan of onion dip, so I figured I'd get my husband's opinion. Unfortunately, he didn't like it either. He says it's too bland, and I agree. I wouldn't have thought that something chock full of onions could be bland, but it is. I don't even know what to add to it to improve it. So for me, this recipe was a flop. Oh well. On to the next!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chile's Angels

This week's episode is titled Chile's Angels, found HERE and also on pg. 252 of the book. I made the recipe "Salsa" (the other recipe is titled "Habañero Salsa and Fixins" in the book and "Spicy Pineapple Sauce" on the website). We love salsa in our family so I was eager to try this one. In honesty, I've only made salsa a couple times because I have my favorite store bought brands, but fresh salsa is always a great treat! (Sorry if you're tired of dips! I'm visiting family and we had a big get-together so dips were the perfect thing to put on the menu.)

I was going to double the recipe but when chopping the tomatoes I thought it would be way too much. I decided to use eight or nine tomatoes instead of six and kept most of everything the same. I had never used ancho chiles before so it was fun to try something new. I had also never roasted jalapeños before so that was fun to try, thought it wasn't really easy to peel the skin off.

I'm realizing right now that the book recipe slightly differs from the website in that the book only calls for 1 ancho chile and 2 jalapeños while the website calls for 2 ancho chiles and 4 jalapeños. Without having looked at the website I added an extra ancho chile and jalapeño anyway, so I recommend following the website recipe.

This is a chunky salsa, but if you prefer yours thin I think you could use a blender or food processor to liquify it some and it would be great too. It was a bit on the mild side for my tastes but it could probably easily be spiced up with more jalapeños if desired. My salsa seemed a bit bland at first so I added a couple extra teaspoons salt and extra chili powder, and I thought the flavors increased after it sat for a few hours. This morning I realized I think I forgot the garlic, oops! Overall it was a tasty salsa.

Melanie W.'s Spinach and Artichoke Dip

My husband and I recently ate some spinach artichoke dip at a restaurant and we said we should make it at home because it is so yummy! Fortunately, I was able to make it, but unfortunately, my husband didn't get any because I'm out of town while he had to stay home. Oh well, I would definitely make this again though! It was really yummy. I doubled it for a large crowd and still had a lot of leftovers. Since it's so creamy, a little goes a long way!

I used canned artichokes instead of frozen (has anyone ever seen frozen artichoke hearts? I don't think I have.) and chopped them into small pieces. I more than doubled the Parmesan cheese because I like my dip cheesy. We served it with baguette slices. This was really easy and yummy and will probably make it again soon.

Melanie W.'s Guacamole

I really like guacamole so I knew I would like this. It's also really easy to make, which is another reason I knew I'd like this. I doubled the recipe, though only added 3 tomatoes because I thought 4 would be too much. I didn't have cayenne pepper so I substituted chili powder and paprika like Whitney did. I added the full amount of salt and it was fine for my taste buds. I've never made guacamole with cumin before so that was a nice addition. I'll have to remember that for next time I make guacamole (because I usually don't use a recipe when I make it).