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 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.