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.