Monday, June 20, 2011

French Macarons

Not to be confused with coconut macaroons.

Have you ever seen these little cookies? I think they are becoming trendy. Maybe they'll be the next fad. Like cake pops. But better.

Max and I first tried macarons last year when I bought a box of them from a local French cafe. We were instant fans. We have been wanting to try making some for awhile, but I'd heard they are tricky. So we studied up a little before attempting to make them.

I don't know what all the potential pitfalls are, but I thought they were actually fairly easy. Our batter came together just fine, and piping them onto the pan was easy enough (although messy). I have large tube cake decorating tips, but I imagine you could just cut the corner off of a zip lock bag and that would work fine.

We did have one problem when it came to baking. Our first pan of cookies, baked on a dark teflon coated pan, came out perfectly. Our second and third pans, light-colored aluminum pans, came out gooey and we couldn't get all of them off the pans without destroying them. We cooked them longer, but I think we still didn't cook them long enough. They looked set, but they sank as they cooled. So make sure you wait till they are brown around the bottom edges. Next time, we'll err on the side of overcooking instead of undercooking our cookies.

If you're interested in trying them, these are helpful resources.

Demystifying Macarons (PDF -- Includes recipe we used)
Joanne Chang demonstrates (YouTube)

We added lemon zest to our batter and made lemon buttercream frosting and lemon cream cheese frosting to go on them. I preferred the lemon cream cheese frosting because it wasn't quite as sweet. I also tried using some leftover chocolate ganache frosting I had in the fridge and it went together surprisingly well. I think some kind of a raspberry frosting filling would have been fantastic. Maybe we'll try that next time.

There are so many flavor possibilities with macarons that I can't wait to try them again!

Monday, June 13, 2011

California Eggs Benedict

A few months ago my husband made the poached eggs from Good Eats. He makes them almost every Saturday now and the whole family loves them. I occasionally make mine into Eggs Benedict, which is great but a little heavy. I found this amazing recipe for California Eggs Benedict and wanted to share. It is amazing. You really can't go wrong with avocado, basil, roasted tomatoes and cheese sauce. Check it out. 

California Benedict
From Katie Sweeney

6 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise into four thick slices
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flesh of 1 1/2 avocados, diced
3 tablespoons basil, julienned
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Nutemg, for sprinkling
4 large slices of sliced sourdough, lightly toasted
4 poached or fried eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the tomato slices on a baking pan covered with foil. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. In a small bowl mash the avocados to make a spreadable paste. Mix in the basil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the milk and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. It will thicken. Remove from heat and add the cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. To assemble, spread each piece of toast with a thick layer of mashed avocado (about 2-3 heaping tablespoons). Cover with 4-6 slices of tomato. Top with a poached or fried egg. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the cheese sauce over the top of each egg. Enjoy with a knife and fork immediately.
Serves 2-4.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Melanie's Root Beer Bundt Cake

I decided to go back to the beginning of Delish time and try the Root Beer Bundt Cake. I think it was the first recipe posted? I was living in Ecuador at the time and I didn't have a bundt cake pan, plus root beer was very difficult to find, so I wasn't able to make it. Recently, I saw it pop up on a couple food blogs that I follow which was a reminder to try it out!

This past weekend we had some friends over for a BBQ so I figured it would be a great opportunity to make it (because as much fun as it would be, I just can't eat a whole cake by myself!). Everyone said they really liked it and they all ate it, but maybe they were just being nice because it wasn't my favorite cake.

First of all, like others said, you just can't taste the root beer (I used IBC brand). The chocolate is just too overpowering, but yummy though! Also, the instructions say not to overmix and that it should be lumpy, but to me that was a bad idea because I had little flour clumps in my cake piece. Not pretty or appetizing. The frosting was yummy, but I put it on while the cake was still warm (they suggest to cook it the day before- I wasn't that organized) so the frosting sort of slid down the cake. It tasted ok, it just didn't look as pretty as the picture in the book.

So, despite it not tasting like root beer, having flour clumps, and melty frosting, it still got eaten up. It was a decent chocolate cake, I just don't think I'll make it again. Oh, and serving it with vanilla ice cream is absolutely essential!

that's a ton of frosting!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chili x2

This is the Sweet Potato Chili that Danielle recommended.

So, here I am, two months after requesting chili recipes. I made them both!

I made the Chipotle Chocolate Chili from Melanie first. Despite everything she said and everything I've read on adding chocolate to savory dishes, I still thought that putting it in would somehow give a hint of chocolate-y flavor, but now I know for myself that is not the case at all. It just adds extra depth, exactly like Melanie said. I almost didn't add it, but I'm really glad I did! I decided I had to risk it after test-tasting and thinking it seemed to be missing something. I really liked this chili and my family did too. My husband loves chipotle flavor and I wish so much that I loved it, too, but I prefer it to be subtle, so the diced tomatoes I used were the Mexican-style ones with chipotles in, rather than the chilis in adobo sauce, which I find to be too strong for me.

The Sweet Potato Chili from Danielle was good too! I did miss the meat flavor some (not the meat texture, though--this chili has great texture and the sweet potatoes are a good addition), but I think that's partly my taste buds expecting meaty flavor since my brain knows I'm eating chili. I'd give this one a shot again before trying another vegetarian chili. I cooked it in the crock pot and it smelled so delicious all day while it was simmering! The spices on this one are really nice.

Thanks again, Danielle and Melanie, for providing those recipes!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chicken Quinoa Stew

I finally made something blog-worthy! This Chicken Quinoa Stew was pretty amazing. I found it here:

If you haven't heard of quinoa, or if you have heard of quinoa but haven't cooked with it, you should definitely make this recipe to try it out! I first heard of quinoa while I was living in Ecuador because it orginates in the Andes Mountains there, but it has recently become a lot more popular here in the U.S. Quinoa is a grain that I like to describe as a cross between rice and pasta, but the grains are teeny tiny. It's very healthy because it's super high in protein and a good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. It's also gluten-free! It doesn't have much flavor, but just adds texture.

We told my 2 1/2 year old boy that the quinoa were monster eggs, and he gobbled it right up. His exact words were "monster eggs good!" And I'm happy that he's eating something good for him.

I love making stews and soups because they are so healthy and always delicious! This stew has a nice spicy kick to it that could be doctored up or down, depending on your spiciness preference.
Also, the recipe says to cook the quinoa beforehand, but I had to simmer mine for 20+ minutes to get the potatoes tender enough, so you could probably throw the uncooked quinoa in with the potatoes and it would get cooked while you simmered. It would save you time and a dirty dish.

I wasn't going for presentation with this picture, but you can see waht it looks like.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grasshopper Cake

Long time no post! I'm still here and rarely cookin' anything blog-worthy since my kids never eat what I make...with the exception of cheese burgers, chicken nuggets, PB sandwiches, pizza...and I can't really think of anything else they will both eat. Not kidding.

I finally made this cake! I'm so glad Jeff's birthday gave me an excuse.

I am happy to say that I mastered the frosting! Okay, so I failed miserably the first time and had outstanding success the 2nd. Here are my secrets:

1. Use a narrower pot. I don't know why this made such a huge difference, but I reduced the 1st batch for 30 minutes and the 2nd batch in the narrower sauce pan reduced much better.
2. Don't bother trying to mix it to cool it. I think this is a silly way to let something cool. Sure it might cool a bit faster, but don't waste precious energy...just let the reduction sit for an hour or 2 until it is room temperature with absolutely no warmth.
3. Do not use soft, but cool butter. Use the butter straight out of the fridge and cut it into cubes. This is the only way I use butter anymore. It makes my cookies much softer. If you let butter get too soft it is going to separate and never return to its original form.
4. In addition to the above changes I also replaced some of the milk with some heavy cream. However, I don't think it is necessary if you use the method I've said.

I can't wait to eat this cake!!!! I had to blog about it now cause otherwise it would never happen.

The end product. I used Oreo Thin Crisps to make little sanwiches and they were perfect.

Use a pot like this...

Not like this...

Squint your eyes to get past the slight blur, but there is a little of both batches in this bowl. The failure on the bottom right and remnants of the success around the bowl. I had to use a bit of the bad batch since I only made 1/2 a batch the 2nd time. You can definitely taste the difference, but it will be okay. Certainly didn't have another 3 hours to make it again.

And can someone please tell me how to train this dragon?

Isn't creating food is exhilarating isn't it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Great Dessert for a large family function: Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding

Recipe: Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding

I've made this for the past few years now for our Christmas Eve dessert. Its a big hit and the only changes I make are no raisins and we don't do the rum sauce since there are a few kids and some people who don't drink.

This recipe is from the food network and Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello specifically.

Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding

Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
10 min
Cook Time:
45 min


8 to 10 servings

Bread pudding:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
16 cake doughnuts

Rum sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound confectioners' sugar
Dark rum, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, combine butter and sugar briefly, just until it forms into a ball. Add eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, and vanilla, and process until blended.

Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Break up the doughnuts into 1-inch pieces and layer in the pan. Scatter the raisins over the top. Pour the egg mixture over the doughnuts; soak for 5 to 10 minutes. You will need to push doughnut pieces down during this time to ensure even coverage by egg mixture.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes to brown the top. The doughnut bread pudding is done when the custard is set, but still soft.

Make the rum sauce: melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan, and take off the heat. Add confectioners' sugar to the melted butter and whisk to blend. Add rum, to taste. Pour the sauce over the bread pudding and allow to soak in

A Favorite Recipe of mine--and a family pleaser

Made this meatball soup from the Williams Sonoma Soup Cookbook.
Albondigas with Beef-and Tortilla Meatballs


1 lb lean ground beef
4 eggs
1/2 small red onion finely chopped (for meat balls)
3/4 cup crushed tortilla chips
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground pepper

7 cups meat or chicken stock
1 can (1 lb) tomatoes with their juice
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp red pepper flake
2 carrots corsely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped (for soup)
1 bay leaf

In a mixing bowl, stir together the beef ( you can use turkey or ground pork instead) eggs, onion, tortilla chips, cilantro, oregano, salt, cumin, and pepper. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Put the stock in a large sauce pan. Add the tomatoes, crushing them slightly with a wooden spoon, along with the sugar, red pepper flakes, carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Moistening your hands with cold water, form the beef mixture into balls 1-1 1/2 inch in diameter and slip them carefully into the simmering stock. Cover and simmer gently until the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are tender about 20 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf. Taste the stock and adjust seasoning.

Notes: I used some corn chips I had for the tortilla chips and used a 1 lb can of chopped tomatoes. This was a great soup especially on a cold night. I didn't take any pictures so you'll have to make it yourself.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Home Runs.

I get most of my recipes from blogs or websites.

I have a few that will knock your socks off.

My husband and I fought over the leftovers. 
I followed the recipe exactly. I didn't know that onions could be so amazing. 

I just so fantastic. 
I add extra veggies. I also make a few healthy adjustments. 
But if you make it as is... oh ya... your welcome.

So easy. 4 ingredients. 
I was sneaking these until they were gone. 
I think about them all the time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I recently cooked with barley for the first time. I'm not exactly sure why I never used it before, I guess I just never came across a recipe that called for it. Until a few weeks ago that is. A food blog I frequent is I love this blog because most all the recipes are winners! I make at least one recipe from this blog each week, if not two or more. Recently two recipes calling for barley were featured: Split Pea Soup with Barley and Ham (you can find the recipe here), and Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili (find it here). They both sounded delicious so I made them both.

(sorry, no picture of the chili)

I LOVED the split pea soup! It's a slow cooker recipe and was very easy. The flavor and texture were phenomenal. My husband was skeptical but he loved it and even ate all the leftovers. The chili was alright but I thought it needed more salt and seasonings. It tasted more like taco soup rather than chili, but that's ok because taco soup is yummy! It isn't a slow cooker recipe, but it probably could be adapted to be one.

I really like the texture and flavor the barley added to both of these recipes. I would like to add more grains to my diet and barley is such an easy grain to cook with. If you've never cooked with barley, try one of these recipes! I know we're getting out of soup and chili season, but if you're like me you enjoy them all year round.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chipotle Chocolate Chili

Here's another chili recipe. I found this one on Our Best Bites and saved it to my recipe collection (click here then you'll have to do a search for the recipe). I thought chocolate was strange, but you don't really taste it, it just adds nice depth to it! In my recipe notes I just said go easy on the chipotle, but if you really like chipotle, then don't hold back!

Chipotle Chocolate Chili

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, minced
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can beef broth
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Nesquick! That would be very bad!)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Chipotle sauce (from the can of chipotle chilies)
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (1/2 unsweetened baking cube), chopped (optional; use to taste as needed, too much will make your chili bitter)
3-4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
light sour cream
chopped green onions
shredded cheddar cheese

Heat some olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and ground turkey until meat is cooked through. Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, tomatoes, kidney beans, and beef broth. Add all of the chipotle sauce from a small can of chipotle chilies. Heat to boiling and then reduce to a simmer (uncovered), stirring occasionally, until thickened as desired (about 30-40 minutes). If desired, add some chopped chipotle chilies. Add 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar and a small amount of chopped chocolate at a time until desired richness is reached. If necessary, add more red wine vinegar to cut the sweetness of the chili. This is where you can play around a little with the flavors.
When thickened and seasoned as desired, serve with green onions, sour cream, and cheddar cheese

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Chili

I had this in a comment, but then I figured I'd just go ahead and post it. I think it's worth sharing with everyone.

Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potato

I came across this recipe in Real Simple a few months ago maybe. It is not a traditional chili, but I loved it! Anything that has sweet potato in it catches my eye, and I was intrigued that cocoa powder was an ingredient. I don't know that I could really taste the cocoa, but this chili definitely has a unique taste. Max and I both really liked it. It's my new go-to chili.

The recipe says to cook it for several hours in a slow cooker, but I just made it on the stove. Well first, I roasted the sweet potatoes in the oven. Then I sauteed the other vegetables in a large pot; added the liquid, sweet potato, and spices; and let it simmer for maybe 30 minutes. Easy!

Good luck in your recipe search Maren!

Great Chili?

Greetings to all you makers of delicious food!

I could use some help getting a great chili recipe. I'm doing a family birthday party soon and need to feed 11 people dinner. I have some chili recipes that are fine but I'm still on a quest for a chili recipe I really resonate with.

Does anyone have a chili recipe they love that they'd be willing to share?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Delish

Thank you guys so much for posting your opinions on the last post. I think we should go ahead and switch things up! Lets open it up as a general recipe blog. If you have a recipe that you love and are willing to share, please post it. I am fine if you want to use this as your "recipe book" to store all your favorite recipes for easy access.

Anyone can post whatever type of recipe they would like. There are labels that can be helpful in searching and I suggest you use them. For example: main dish, appetizer, drink, salad, soup, bread and dessert.

To keep in the spirit of delish I would like to encourage you to try other people's recipes and post about it. Along with that, try not to be offended if someone doesn't like the recipe you posted. You may end up with suggestions that would make your dish even more amazing. 

I would also like to encourage you to post a picture if you can. I am such a visual person I prefer to make recipes that I've seen a picture of.

So, lets do this! I'm excited to see what you've all been eating!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Catherine's Squash Revisited

This is another recipe I made a while ago but didn't post. I wanted to try acorn squash, so I decided to make stuffed squash. I cut the acorn squash in half and baked it until it was almost done (I don't remember now how long that took; probably half an hour). I stuffed it with sausage stuffing (this recipe, only I made it on the stovetop instead of in a crockpot), then drizzled melted butter and grated parmesan cheese on it and baked it again for another 10 minutes.

(I made a lot because I was visiting family in Utah.)

So, what did we think? Well, I got rave reviews from all my family, even the one who doesn't really like squash, and the one who doesn't like sausage. But... I didn't really like it. I guess I was expecting it to taste more like butternut squash, which is sweet. It didn't. My mom described it as an "earthy" taste, which I guess is pretty accurate, but I wanted a sweet contrast to the stuffing. So I tried it again after Christmas using butternut squash. Definitely tastier, although not nearly as cute. I do like that the acorn squash makes a perfect individual serving, which you don't get with the butternut.

Catherine's Poached Eggs

I made this a long time ago, but I'm finally getting around to posting it. I can't eat eggs, so I used my husband and daughter as taste testers. Both like eggs, and both are a little picky, so I figured they'd be good judges. I thought the texture was very interesting, like a mix between a hard-boiled and a fried egg. Both my judges liked them, although not enough for me to try it again except on special occasions. When they're perfectly happy with an easier egg, why change it up?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Posting Behind the Bird: Turkey Salad

Going to post regarding the turkey salad recipe in this episode later today. We had a roasted turkey breast last night so I thought this would be a good way to use some of it up.

I couldn't actually find the recipe on the food network website but this is the episode when the crew was "snowed in" and had to do what they could during that time. Here is the link to utube for the episode.

Here's the recipe:
1 lb Roasted Turkey meat
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 small lemon freshly squeezed
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 c dried cranberries, roughly chopped
2 TBSP fresh sage, chiffonade
1/4 tsp kosher salt
black pepper, to taste

Combine everything in a large airtight container. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Store in the fridge for 3 days.

I normally don't like fruit mixed with my meat. But this was great. I think the fresh sage really added a lot to this salad.

It is on page 163 if you have the book.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Next Rotation?

As we're entering our last week of this rotation I want to hear your thoughts on delish. So, if you could all just answer the following questions in the comment section, that would be great!

1. Do you want to continue choosing recipes from the Good Eats cookbook? What are your general thoughts about this book?
2. Do you like the structure of delish? Would you rather make it more or less formal? 
3. Danielle and I have been tossing around the idea of making delish more of a place where we all submit recipes we like and recommend from any cookbook. Do you like this idea?
4. Do you find it too hard to make the recipes in the one week time frame?
5. What is your favorite and least favorite part of delish?

Thanks a bunch! I'll post my thoughts down there later in the week, but I would love to know what you guys have to say!

Cami's Yogurt

This was a total flop for me. I have heard of people making yogurt in their crockpots and I thought this would be a good idea. I used the Good Eats recipe but changed the cook times to the crockpot recipe. This resulted in thicker milk like substance, but not quite yogurt. It just didn't thicken up. So, I tried cooking it a little longer which resulted in a tan colored mess that didn't look or taste like yogurt. It was more like spoiled milk. A total flop. I do want to try again, but if anyone has tips for making yogurt, please pass them along!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 6 Episode: Yogurt: Good Milk Gone Bad

I chose this recipe because I've wanted to make my own yogurt for a while but just haven't. I also chose this one because the list of recipes you can make are huge, so hopefully there is something for everyone. You can find the episode here. It includes:
I can't wait to see what you guys choose!

Cami's Lava Cakes

Although I thought these were good I didn't get a lava center and therefore was also disappointed. I was worried they would be too soft and left them in for an extra minute or two. I was wrong. If I had not had lava cake before I probably would have been thrilled since they taste like a flourless chocolate cake, which I like. 

I didn't do the melted ice cream because I prefer warm cakes with cold ice cream. I may try these again and decrease the cooking time by a bit.

Melanie's Chocolate Lava Muffins

I was super excited to make these! Then, I was super disappointed with the results. Like Danielle, my centers didn't have any gooey lava. I think the reason was because I added too much flour. I was following the recipe from the book when I made it, and the book only gives measurements for the flour and sugar in weight, not volume. Since I don't own a food scale (it's on the wish list, but the wish list is long so I don't know when I'll actually ever get one), I did my best to estimate based on an online weight to volume conversion tool. My conversion came out to about 1/3 cup for 1 1/2 oz. of flour. I halved the recipe, so I used about 1/6 cup. Again, this was an estimate since the smallest measuring cup I have is 1/4. Anyway, after I made them I happened to look at the online recipe and saw that the ingredients were listed by volume rather than weight, and I should have only used 1 1/2 Tbsp. (since I halved it) rather than 1/6 cup. Big difference!

So, my muffins turned out pretty dense. They were still pretty good, especially served with lots of vanilla ice cream (first I served it with the sauce, but then decided I preferred the cold ice cream) but I wanted to see a lava center. I used 70% cacao dark chocolate, and I think it was a little too rich for me. If I were to try again, I'd just use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips or maybe even some milk chocolate. I have another recipe I'd like to try that calls for putting a chocolate chip cookie on the bottom of the muffin tin, then you invert the muffin to eat it and you have a cookie on the top!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cami's Black Beans

These are quite tasty! I've never made beans that didn't come from a can before. These are significantly better than canned. I slightly undercooked mine but I liked the texture better than if they were all mushy. I made mine into burritos with broccoli and cheese and served them on handmade tortillas. Delicious! Okay, I thought they were delicious. Calder asked me to pick out the "mommy onions" and Jason said they were okay but he doesn't like black beans. So I now have 10 burritos in my freezer waiting for ME to consume them. All well, I still thought they were delicious. 

I can't wait to try the baked beans but I'll probably have to wait for an occasion to do it so I don't have a freezer chock full of beans. 

Danielle's Chocolate Lava Muffins

I don't have a picture because I actually made these a long time ago, way before we decided to use Good Eats as our new book for delish.

I saw this episode and really wanted to try the lava muffins. They looked so easy, and they were. They were a piece of cake to throw together, and they cook VERY quickly. And they were delicious.

But there was no lava flowing from our muffins... I made a half batch (six muffins), but I should've filled only four muffin cups. Each muffin was really small and cooked faster than I anticipated. If you do divide them as the recipe says, you might want to cook them for a little less time -- or just watch them closely.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Danielle's The Once and Future Beans

These were really good! Max said he doesn't like beans and he really liked these.

I replaced the bacon with smoked ham, and instead of tomato paste (cause I forgot to buy some) I threw in a can of fire roasted tomatoes. We cooked ours in the oven for about five hours, but they were done to our liking after four or four and a half hours. This was really easy to throw together and made a ton. It's a good thing to make at the beginning of the week and have for lunch for the next few days.

I would definitely make these again.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Art of Darkness I

I chose for this week's recipes to come from the episode "The Art of Darkness I" which can be found on page 68 of the book or online HERE. You can choose between the chocolate lava muffins or the chocolate mousse.

In my last post about my puff pastry experience, I said I'd rather save my calories for something containing chocolate. Well, both these recipes are all chocolate, so bring on the calories! And, as a side story, I have to have a cavity filled this week and when talking to my dental hygienist about how I was surprised because I brush and floss all the time, I don't usually drink soda or sports drinks, etc., but I do like chocolate, she said "but chocolate doesn't cause cavities!" She did fail to mention that sugar does lead to cavities and most chocolate we consume contains sugar, but for now I don't have any reservations about consuming chocolate!

I've never made any sort of chocolate lava cake or muffins and have wanted to for a long time now (like, two or three years!). I'm excited to try. I plan to make mine at the end of this week. I've also never made a mousse because it just seems so difficult. Maybe I'll go chocolate crazy and try both recipes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Black Bean Salad

I made the black bean salad and actually used it for filling in burritos.  The beans turned out soft, but I did cook them for about 3 1/2 hours in addition to the first 30 minutes.  They were very easy to make just took cooking time, but a couple of the ingredients were difficult to find.  For some reason I could not find the butcher's twine, and I kept having flash backs to the movie "Bridget Jone's Diary" when Bridget made the blue soup so I figured I better get the right item.  I eventually found it in the fresh meat area of the grocery store.  Also, I could not find a dried arbol chile so I settled for dried anaheim chiles.  After some research I realized that an arbol chile is really hot it is used in cayenne pepper, and the anaheim chile is mild so I used 3 when I made the beans.  I like a little kick, and these did not have  any so in the future I will add extra chiles or cayenne pepper. 

Overall, the beans were good, but I think I would like a little more flavor like I said more spice and maybe a little garlic.  I do not normally have these ingredients on hand, and I have a black bean recipe that I like so I will probably use that one more often. Also, I think adding flavor to canned beans is a bit easier than the dry beans.

Also, I will not be making the hummus recipe on the website because it calls for peanut butter, and I have made hummus with peanut butter before and it is not good. Stick to recipes that call for tahini.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Melanie's Puff Pastry Dessert

This was my first time ever using puff pastry. I didn't let it thaw long enough before I put it in the oven, so I had to bake it for more than twice as long. It still turned out ok, despite a few burnt spots around the edges, but those just flaked off. 

This was very easy to make. I had a difficult time slicing the apples with my peeler like Alton suggests, so I just used the slicer side of my cheese grater and I got nice thin and smooth slices. I didn't make two small tarts, I opted to make one large tart to make things easier.

I thought this was good. The light and airy texture is nice, but since it doesn't fill you up quick I found myself eating 3/4 of this! (my husband ate the other 1/4 or I'm sure I would have eaten that too.) The fruit and lightness of this is deceiving as to how calorie-dense this really is though! According to my puff pastry box, each sheet has 36 grams of saturated fat and 66 grams total fat. Since I ate 3/4, that means I consumed 27 grams of saturated fat!! And nearly 50 grams of total fat!!!!

Ok, this shouldn't be surprising for a pastry, and sure I should have controlled my portion size better. But, I was quite shocked to see how easily I consumed way more than my recommended daily allowance of fat in one simple dessert! And maybe this just bothers me since I'm still trying to shed some baby pounds. But, I figure if I'm going to eat that much fat calories, I'd rather save it for something that contains chocolate. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Danielle's "The Chewy"

I never much liked the Tollhouse cookie recipe growing up, although we often made it for lack of a better recipe. I always thought they were too cakey. But when Alton Brown said it's the only recipe he uses for chocolate chip cookies, I thought it was worth another shot -- especially with his adjustments.

I followed "The Chewy" recipe, with the exception that I used two whole eggs instead of replacing one of the whites with milk. All I had was skim milk and I didn't know how that would turn out. I also don't really like cookies that spread a lot, so I thought I might prefer it with the whole eggs.

I have to say that after making these, I remembered why I didn't like them growing up. Although these were a little less cakey and puffy than what we made growing up, I just don't like the texture of these cookies. I like my cookies to be more dense. I have another recipe that I got from my grandma called "Mrs. Fields Cookies" -- I have no idea if it's really the Mrs. Fields recipe -- but I like it a lot more than these. They are dense and chewy and just a little crunchy on the outside. I haven't found a recipe to beat it yet.

I made one pan of these, and I've just been eating the rest as cookie dough. Cookie dough is always delicious!

Maren's Salmon Turnovers

I have never tried puff pastry before and I thought I'd give the salmon turnovers a go. I've never bought canned salmon before, either. I went for the "wild caught" like Danielle did and got a 5-oz. can, but I had better luck in that there was only fish flesh in mine--no bones or skin. It seemed quite a lot like tuna, actually, but that may have been just the canned taste I was getting.

The turnovers themselves came out quite well. We had to eat two each to get full enough so it was only a two-person recipe. (This, despite my having really stuffed them. I was a little too liberal with some of the ingredients and had probably two turnovers' worth of filling leftover.) My husband and I liked the idea of it a lot; they reminded us of the pierogi we've had in Seattle. I thought the filling was a little dry and would like to try again with other filling variations. All in all it was a very satisfactory experiment!

Pantry Raid III: Cool Beans

This week's recipe comes from Episode 38, Pantry Raid III: Cool Beans (page 182 in the book, and here). My house we are bean lovers.  Lucas has loved beans since he started eating solids, and my husband lived off of beans while he lived in Brazil.  I generally use canned beans, but a while back I bought some bags of dried beans in hopes of saving money.  Well, I soaked one bag and cooked them and they turned out bad.  I thought if anyone could help me figure this out Alton could.  I have sick kids so I don't have the ingredients, but I am planning on making Black Bean Salad and probably the hummus that is on the website later this week.

Danielle's not-really-salmon turnovers

Well, I fully intended to make the salmon turnovers in the puff pastry episode. I bought the puff pastry and a can of salmon. However, I made the mistake of buying the can of "wild caught Alaskan salmon". I keep hearing that wild caught salmon is so much better, so I thought I should go with that.

It turns out the wild caught Alaskan salmon was neither boneless nor skinless. What am I supposed to do with a can of fish with a whole fish spine in it?? Bleh. So then I had a defrosted sheet of puff pastry and no salmon. So we made turnovers but threw in what we had on hand -- red pepper hummus and cilantro. I topped mine with sharp cheddar cheese.

I was disappointed that we weren't able to try the salmon turnovers, but our hummus turnovers tasted really good. I imagine just about anything would taste good in crunchy, puffy, buttery pastry! We're going to try some dessert turnovers at some point, and I still want to try salmon turnovers eventually.

Cami's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made a huge mess of these cookies but it all came out in the end. For some reason when I was measuring the dry ingredients I accidentally measured twice as many as the recipe calls for. So I had way too much sugar, flour etc. I didn't realize this until I was adding the flour at the end and thinking "Wow, this is not wet at all". Thanks to Maren for having wet dough so I knew mine was wrong. I quickly added more wet ingredients in hopes it would all work out in the end. It did! When I baked them that night I didn't love them. The dough was good though. The next day though, the cookies were great. I was surprised they could have such a change overnight. 

The picture is what the balls look like right now. They are in my freezer setting up so I can move them to a baggie. That's how I store dough. We only bake 6-12 and then leave the rest in the freezer until we need more.

I used white whole wheat flour and Jason couldn't tell! If I would have told him he probably would have found something wrong with them but he said they were great. I've replaced all of my regular white flour with white whole wheat. It really is very similar in taste but just better. I get it at Trader Joe's for pretty cheap.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Melanie's Puffy Cookies

I like my cookies big and soft, so I decided to make the Puffy version.

To start off, I'll say that they turned out puffy but not quite as soft as I like them. I know my first batch was slightly overcooked, so I turned the cooking time down to about 10 1/2 or 11 minutes. The rest were a little better.

I'm not opposed to baking with shortening, but real butter definitely would have been better. Real butter just tastes SO much better! Cookies just need butter. And maybe the shortening added to the crispiness?

Despite these cookies not being my favorite, I thought this episode was very educational! (I watched the episode on youtube and took notes). Now I feel like I better understand what elements give cookies their texture.

I would like to make another batch of cookies and try to do a combination of the puffy and the chewy...using real butter, maybe melting the butter, using more brown sugar, excluding 1 egg white, only using baking powder. I'm not sure what type of flour I'd use. For these I used cake flour, but I'd like to try the bread flour and see how different it turns out. I usually only keep all-purpose flour on hand, but I'd like to learn the properties of different flours.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Danielle's Mac N Cheese

We wanted to make baked macaroni and cheese, but based on the reviews of Alton's baked mac & cheese (here and online), we decided to switch things up a bit. So we made a hybrid of AB's stove top and baked mac & cheese. We basically followed the stove top recipe, added ham, stuck it in a pan, and topped it with the panko crumbs.

Our hybrid version turned out great! It was delicious, and tasted just about as good the next day as leftovers (reheated in the oven) -- although the leftovers were a bit dry. Oh, one other change we made was that we used a mix of smoked cheddar and sharp cheddar. I loved the smokey flavor, especially with the ham.

Growing up, I never had baked macaroni and cheese. In fact, it's possible that the first time I ever had it was in the last year or so. So I'd never had mac & cheese with bread crumbs on top, but I love the crunchiness added to it! I'm a big fan of baked mac & cheese now. I think we will definitely make this again (the hybrid version) -- although not often for the sake of our arteries. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Three Chips Transcript

This is one episode I highly recommend reading (or at least skimming) the transcript. I saw this episode last year and, no joke, I got out a notepad and vigorously took notes. This was the kind of baking chemistry stuff that I have no idea about.

Alton Brown talks about how the different ingredients change the type of cookie you end up with -- thin, crunchy, chewy, puffy, etc. This is the kind of info you can take and tweak any cookie recipe to make it more to your liking.

You can find the episode transcript HERE.

Here are some of the basic takeaway concepts:

- More baking soda makes a thinner cookie
- More baking powder makes a puffier cookie
- Butter makes cookies spread, use chilled butter for a cookie that spreads less
- Brown sugar makes chewier cookies
- Cake flour produces more steam which creates more lift and results in puffier cookies
- Bread flour produces more gluten and results in chewier cookies
- Substituting milk for some of the egg makes a cookie that spreads more

Hope that helps!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Three Chips for Sister Marsha

Above: Post-refrigerator but pre-oven. Below: The slightly over-finished product.

I chose this chocolate chip cookie recipe (found on p. 166 in the book) not because I need another one but because of Alton's claim that it would help me understand how to change other cookie recipes. I'm not quite sure I learned that because I'm still deciding on how this went, but anyway, here goes:

I followed his recipe with these exceptions: I didn't use bread flour, I had 1% milk and used that instead of whole milk.

I came up with the gloopiest, wettest cookie dough I have ever seen--there will be no skipping the step of a one-hour refrigeration, I'm afraid. I refrigerated mine probably double that. Even so, the last cookie I popped into the oven should have gone back into the fridge first. It was too gooey and came out as flat as a pancake and didn't look appealing at all.

Since Alton recommends against doing half-batches, I decided to take his advice to make a full batch and freeze a bunch of dough instead. I plan to pop those straight from the freezer into the oven later this week and see how they turn out. (If I haven't eaten all the dough straight out of the freezer yet, that is!)

But back to the batch at hand: I overcooked them a bit. Alton says 15 minutes for two sheets in the oven at a time. I only put in one and forgot to adjust the baking time. We ate them warm and I didn't think they were that great and pronounced myself disappointed. I wouldn't have guessed I was eating a cookie called "The Chewy." However, the next day I ate one and I liked it very much! I shouldn't have been surprised because I usually like cookies better the next day, after the chocolate is hard again (am I the only one??) and it was the case with these too. The leftover ones were chewy, just like Alton claimed they should be--and this in spite of my having overcooked them!

Overall I'd say I had a successful cookie experience, but I don't know yet if I'll be making these again.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cami's Puff Pastry Dessert

Holy cow this is good. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great. I love that it feels light because it doesn't have much sugar. I used sugar free apricot jam as well and thought it was just the right sweetness. 

With the extra pastry I made a blueberry version. I just added frozen blueberries before putting it in the oven. It could not be easier. I still used some apricot jam on the blueberry and it was really good. I think it would be great with pears, assorted berries or cherries.

It's a good thing I weren't serving this to anyone but my family because as I was doing the pastry part I looked over and found this: 

Yep, he ate 3-4 bites in my apple. Oh and then he tried to drink the lemon water. After I took the apples out I let him have a taste. He loves it. Crazy kid.

On Christmas eve I made this Floret Cheese Strudel using puff pastry. Prior to that I haven't ever used it. I think I will probably try the salmon recipe in Good Eats. I'm curious about his manwich filling version but probably not enough to make it. I do like that about Alton Brown though. He isn't a pretentious chef. He doesn't assume you're only using whole, organic foods. I'm not saying you shouldn't it's just he isn't listing ridiculous ingredients that the average home cook doesn't have access to. And he seems to understand my desire for quick food.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Puff the Magic Pastry

This week's recipes come from Episode 53, Puff the Magic Pastry (page 244 in the book, here online). I chose to make the fruit tarts, as Alton Brown called them "the best easy dessert I know." I love easy. These days, I only cook if it's easy. And this really was easy. I followed the recipe exactly, and they turned out beautifully. The recipe makes two 6" tarts, and I also made two 2" tarts with the leftover pastry. The small tarts cooked exactly the same as the big ones, and tasted just as great, which I liked because a 6" tart is a little too much for me. These were fancy, easy, light, and tasty, and I definitely will make them for company some time. I just won't mention how easy they were.

The crust looks a little burned, but it really wasn't. The tarts are crunchy and not very sweet. Perfect! However, if you like them sweeter, add more sugar or use a sweeter jam (I couldn't find any apricot jam, so I used apricot Simply Fruit, which isn't very sweet).

Cami's Waldorf Salad

I don't remember having Waldorf salad in the past but I've definitely heard the name before. I was excited to try it though because I love salad. Jason teases me a lot because we eat salad for 2-3 dinners a week. It's easy, fast and can sit in the fridge until he gets home without being gross. 

I used pecans because that is what I had and I didn't toast them because I'm lazy like that. I don't think it hindered the flavor. I decreased the amount of mayonnaise because 1 cup seemed like a lot. I used 3/4 cup and felt like it was plenty moist. I served mine on spinach because that is what I had. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. (I know I just said I changed half of the ingredients but whatever)

We ate the leftovers for lunch today and it tasted just as good as yesterday. This is definitely a win and I will be putting it in my regular rotation. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Melanie's Applesauce

The only time I've ever made applesauce was when I used to make my oldest child's baby food. Since it was baby food it contained only apples and water. I would never have thought to add butter and honey to applesauce! They were nice additions. I only used 2 Tbsp. of honey due to Maren's comments, but I think it would have been good with 3 or more Tbsps. Mine turned out a bit more tart than I prefer. Using different types of apples might help this also. I couldn't even tell that the butter was in it, so I think next time I'd leave it out just to cut out the calories. Since I didn't have apple juice on hand and had to go to the store, I splurged and got the unfiltered stuff. Really, I don't see why it really makes a difference if you use that over filtered juice. Next time I'd probably use regular apple juice since it's typically less expensive.

I liked Alton Brown's suggestion of using a melon baller to scoop the core out. Very easy! I only cooked the apples for the 10 minutes called for, then tried to use my stick blender to blend it up. I'm not sure if the apples weren't soft enough or if my stick blender just isn't very good (I did buy it used), but it wouldn't blend it up all the way, so I ended up putting it all in my regular blender which quickly made it nice and smooth. If you prefer your applesauce chunckier then you should use a potato masher or a food processor.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Early Years Episodes

I figured I'd repost this for everyone's benefit. Good Eats: The Early Years covers Season 1 through just over half of Season 6 (up through the episode called "Casserole Over").

You can find episode lists either here on the Food Network or here on Wikipedia.

Also, at the top of the blog is a page called "Good Eats Resources". You can find a link to the episode list on the Food Network there as well as a link to a Good Eats fan site that has transcripts for all Good Eats episodes.

New Year New Round Rotation

Here is the schedule for the next round. If you don't see your name listed below and want to participate, just let me know.

January 2: Danielle
January 9: Catherine
January 16: Maren
January 23: Melissa
January 30: Melanie W.
February 6: Cami
February 13: Jen

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maren's Applesauce

I chose to make the applesauce. I followed the recipe except that I didn't have unfiltered apple juice--just the regular stuff--and substituted 2 extra tablespoons of that for the alcohol.

Although I was a little skeptical, I used his microwave method. I put the apples in a big Corelle salad bowl and overturned a dinner plate on top of that for the lid and it worked out pretty well. The apples just fit. I tried blending them after the recommended 10 minutes but they weren't soft enough yet so I put them back in for another 5 and they were just right. I don't think they need a quarter-turn every 2 minutes like Alton says; every 4 or 5 should be fine. All in all it worked fine but using the stove seems like it might actually be less fussy. I do have to note that the smell of the apples cooking was downright heavenly!

And the applesauce was delicious. My kids loved it and even my husband had a serving!
I really liked it myself--the only thing I'd change when I do it again is to take the honey to 2 Tbsp.; I thought 3 was a bit too sweet. I like my applesauce on the tangy side. I could probably try some other apple varieties to get more tang, too.

I'd never made my own applesauce before today, but now I know how good it can be I think I will have to do it again!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Danielle's Waldorf Hysteria

This salad was really delicious. I've only had Waldorf salad maybe a couple other times, so I don't have much to compare to. But Max and I both really enjoyed this.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but I was able to make this with stuff I already had. And I was excited to be able to use some of the things that are growing in my front "yard" (lettuce and mint).

Here are the changes I made:
  • I used craisins instead of raisins
  • I left out the celery (I'm not a fan)
  • I used only Fuji apples
  • I decreased the amount of onion and sliced them really thin
  • I used pecans instead of walnuts (cause that's what I had)

We put this on lettuce, but I thought the lettuce was unnecessary. I would've rather left it out. Max liked it with the lettuce though, so it's a toss up. I really loved the combination of the curry with the mint and apples. It's a great flavor combination. This was really easy to put together, and it tasted great. Since I keep these ingredients on hand, I can see myself throwing this together often when I don't feel like cooking.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Apple Family Values

I'm sure a lot of you, like me, are not in the mood for anything really heavy this week. I wanted to pick something light and easy. I almost got sidetracked into picking Crust Never Sleeps (that galette sounds really really good), but I didn't want to make or buy a pound cake. And I think it's for the better that I settled on this episode instead.

I'm going to make The Waldorf Hysteria sometime this week, so I'll post about it later after I've made it. You can find this episode on pages 86 through 89 in the book. You can find the recipes for this episode on the Food Network's website here.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Round

Hi Ladies!

I hope you all had a peaceful, happy Christmas and are enjoying the new year! I also hope you are ready to start cooking with delish again. We're going to keep going with Good Eats, The Early Years as our book. Danielle is going to start the rotation tomorrow and I'm sure it will be something yummy! 

I would like to get the rest of the rotation organized so please either leave a comment on this post or email me if you're ready to go with this round. I hope you are! It is a lot of fun! In your comment, please let me know if there is any week your would prefer to choose a recipe or any time that doesn't work for your schedule.