Sunday, February 15, 2015
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Cinnamon Apple Waffles
adapted from MrBreakfast's Apple Waffles
2 cups flour
3 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1 large apple, finely diced
Wisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in one bowl. Separate the eggs - eggwhites in your kitchenaid mixer with the whip attachment (or bowl you plan to use for whipping), and the egg yolks in a separate bowl (Yes, I know, three bowls have to get dirty and for that I apologize profusely).
While the mixer is whipping up the eggwhites on high speed (goal is stiff peaks) and your waffle iron is heating up, wisk the egg yolks and add in the milk and stir to combine. Then mix the yolk/milk mixture in with the dry mixture, and don't overmix. Stir in vegetable oil, cinnamon, vanilla and fold in the stiff eggwhites. Carefully stir in the diced apple (I used a large granny smith and it was quite nice having a tart contrast with the sweet maple syrup).
Scoop into your waffle iron (I spray mine first to avoid sticking), and cook until your preference (The Husband likes soft and I like crispy waffles!) Enjoy with pure maple syrup or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
I hope you enjoy, these were really delicious - they look whole wheat/healthy too but it's just the cinnamon. ;)
Well, it's well into the fall season here in Michigan and I have finally broken the long streak of no baking at our house (really have been good over here!) to do a few things this week. I made several things for The Husband to take up to opening day of Deer Camp - a few new recipes which I think turned out great: World's Best Lasagna from AllRecipes.com, Dutch Apple Pie With Oatmeal Streusel from AllRecipes.com, Martha Stewart's Muffaletta, and Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Based on one of my favorite sources for recipes, Chef John at Food Wishes, we had a great beef stew last night. I followed his method except first fried about a half pound of bacon and set the bacon aside to add in later. Then, I browned the seasoned beef really well and I started with 6 lbs of fresh trimmed beef chuck. I put the heat on high and even my super huge nonstick pot could get some of the beef a nice golden crust - that's what you want, brown yummy goodness! The butcher man at Kroger was really nice to cut me fresh roasts from the back since they only had one in the meat case. Then he gave me a free 50 gas pts for my "inconvenience".. what a nice guy!
After I browned the big chunks of chuck beef, I dumped the bacon grease out (leaving the browned goodness stuck to the bottom of my pot) and added fresh olive oil. Then, I threw the roughly chopped 2 onions, a package of carrots chopped into large pieces, and a package of celery hearts chopped into large pieces. I browned all of the veggies for a good while until they were golden browned on some sides. I think I learned that step from Pioneer Woman - she browned her carrots and such before a pot roast. Since all my portions are larger, you can see I was making a double batch in a giant pot, and I am glad I did because honestly there wasn't that much leftover - probably not enough to freeze, I think we will easily eat it in a day or two.
After the veggies were browned (season with S&P to taste), I started the wine portion of Chef John's instructions - I put in 2 cups of wine (didn't double it but then added another cup later to cook down so I'd recommend at least 3 cups to start). I added 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, chopped, too. I let the veggies and wine cook until the wine was reduced to half. Then I added 3 cups of beef stock and the rest of the ingredients - a bundle of fresh thyme, some bay leaves, a good bunch of halved mushrooms, a tablespoon of flour and instead of more flour, I used 1 packet of onion soup mix. I put the top on and let it simmer for 1.5 hours. I checked it a few times and realized I could add the rest of my beef stock carton (the 4th cup) and another cup of wine, and it was still plenty of time to cook all that liquid down. By the time it was 1.5 hours in, and time to take the top off, there was hardly and liquid but enough to keep going and the meat was starting to get tender - I added the crumbled bacon in. By the end of 2 hours, everything was perfect. Since I was low on liquid, I finished the stew with about a half stick of salted butter which made it pretty awesome. Since we don't usually eat potatoes, I served the stew with mashed/pureed buttery creamy cauliflower with chopped green onions mixed in. The Husband said "this is one of your best". We typically eat low carb but a bit of soup mix or 1 table spoon of flower (6g carbs) doesn't affect us negatively and really made a big difference in the velvety glaze at the end -- instead of soft meat/veggies sitting in brown water. I love Chef John's recipes - so far each one has been excellent. I love his videos and listening to his cheerful and humorous description of how to do the recipes. What a cool job he has! I hope you try his Beef Merlot, it's wonderful!
Here is Chef John's original recipe. I didn't take a picture but the end product looks just like his except mine had halved mushrooms and crumbled bacon throughout as well. Next time I might try some tomato paste in there but not sure - it was so good as is!
Sunday, June 29, 2014
|One of our feasts last summer - chicken shwarma, lamb kofta, & grilled eggplant!|
|Chicken Shawarma spices - you can marinate overnight|
Grilled Chicken Shawarma Skewers from The Shiksa (I skip the second frying step myself and do the skewers on the grill, and I only use boneless skinless chicken thighs - yum!)
Lamb Kofta Kabobs from AllRecipes (this recipe is legit, tastes just like restaurant quality and I simplify by putting all spices/onion chunks/garlic cloves/parsley in the food processor to make a paste & save some time, and then mix that in with the ground lamb).
|Lamb mixed with the seasonings for Lamb Kofta|
|Add some fresh herbs to your hummous, basil-garlic-lemon is so delicious!|
So for low-carb people, just make lettuce wraps with the shawarma and koftas with onions and tomato and garlic sauce - soo good! Eggplant is a great side and my new favorite vegetable to grill. For everyone else, the yummy fresh pitas and rice fills out the meal wonderfully. Instead of just making the same ole barbecue chicken when you have guests this summer, try something different and go middle eastern on the grill! You will not be disappointed.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Yum! I've tried some free samples of the La Terra Fina spinach dips and always thought they were pretty good, dip some veggies and crackers in there - they do not disappoint. La Terra Fina even sent me some a year or two ago, but I didn't have any recipe ideas for them nor know if I'd buy them again. True - if I was at Costco and prepping to entertain some guests, it's a good option to pick up a tub and a lot better than the dips I find on the shelves at Kroger. My "pretty good" assessment was related to the dip when it was served cold. Then, months later, one day I read the tub and noticed it said "try warm!"... so I did... it changes my assessment from "pretty good" to "100% addictive." Free samples or not, I highly recommend you try it as a hot spinach dip - yum!! I've made my own dips as well and I will still continue to buy this dip.
I tried the artichoke/jalapeno flavor as well as the typical spinach/artichoke flavor and it wasn't spicy enough for me. Then, I had a great idea to take my favorite spinach/artichoke flavor and amp it up with chopped jalapenos and bake it with a panko breadcrumb topping...because.. why not? This is really a great semi-homemade Costco hack that anyone can do and be proud to serve as an appetizer. The dip has a crunchy topping, creamy melty center and a zip and zing from the jalapenos. You can taste the the ingredients are real - this is key for a store-bought dip. Tons of flavor and definitely a keeper! I do tend to eat a lot at once and then have awful garlic breath. Worth it! Don't you love dips for appetizers? Let me know if you've found a product or recipe I should try - Kitchen Bliss loves happy hours.
Easy Spicy Bubbly Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip
By Kitchen Bliss
Supplies You'll Need:
1 tub La Terra Fina Chunky Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan or whatever spinach/artichoke type dip you'd like
1 package Panko bread crumbs
1 jar of sliced jalapenos
This is super easy and adaptable! Decide how much dip you'll need - decide on the serving dish and scoop out enough dip that will fill the bottom of the dish. Think about how spicy you want to make it and chop up that amount of jalapenos and mix into the dip, and taste periodically until the dip is spicy enough for you. Spread the jalapeno-spiked dip into your serving dish and sprinkle a layer of panko bread crumbs on top. Bake at 400 degrees until brown on top/around the edges and the center is warm. Let cool a few minutes before serving so that it isn't too hot for the first person who dips in! Enjoy!
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I think I originally got the gruyere and caramelized onion idea from a Cooking Light recipe... I forget what they recommended or what made it "light".. who cares! My version uses yukon gold potatoes, adds bacon, and jazzes up the presentation - my favorite way to dress up a twice baked potato is to turn it on it's end. I saw this somewhere on a blog a few years ago and it stuck in my head. It looks very attractive. You could use very small potatoes for bite-sized appetizers, or I have used medium sized potatoes fully expecting guests to take 2 or more (halves). I love potatoes in any fashion, don't you? Too bad I cut them out of my diet most of the time!
Elegant Twice Baked Potatoes - Yukon Gold, Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Bacon
By Kitchen Bliss
1-2 medium sized potatoes per person, plus 3 extra for filling
salt and pepper to taste
Customizations I have used:
gruyere cheese (amount varies per how many people you are serving)
bacon - my preference is to bake in the oven and then crumble
1 large onion
green onions or chives
heavy cream or milk
More ways to customize:
Fresh herbs besides scallions and chives - whatever your preferences are, thyme, basil, dill, etc.
Cooked veggies besides onions - broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, leeks, celeriac, fennel, roasted garlic, etc.
Cheese, glorious cheese - parmesan, sharp cheddars, cream cheese, swiss in place of gruyere, pimento spread, gouda, creamy havarti, pinconning, etc.
Let me know what great combinations you've come up with!
Bake washed and poked potatoes in a preheated 415 degree oven until fork tender. Let potatoes cool slightly enough to handle them, but still warm enough to spoon out the insides. For the extra potatoes you baked, just peel and set aside in your large bowl.
For the remaining potatoes - Cut each end of the potato off slightly, in order to make a flat end which will be the bottom of your potato cup - very sturdy! Cut each potato in half. Use a spoon (a toddler spoon is usually thinner and the right size for small potatoes) to scoop out the insides but try to leave a 1/4inch thick shell of skin/potato, so that you end up with a cup. Sometimes I make a mistake and scoop too far and reach the bottom of the cup - have no fear, for minor cup breaches, it really doesn't matter - you will be filling it up with mashed potato soon and it will still probably hold up and look OK. No one is looking at the bottom of these things.
Great! The hard part is over. You have a big bowl of potato yumminess to be mashed up with whatever toppings you so choose. In the example photo above, I mashed the potatoes with butter, cream, salt, pepper, lots of sharp cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, crumbled bacon, and some sauteed onions. I used green onions cut on a bias and stuck one in the top of each potato for a cute and tasty decoration. Don't forget to salt and pepper your filling to taste - no one wants any bland potatoes.
The last step is to either put the assembled potatoes in the fridge overnight, maybe with suran wrap on top, or bake them straight away. I would recommend an oven of 375 and bake until warmed through and the cheese is melty. I reserved some shredded cheese and crumbled bacon for the tops for decoration as well. It gives your guests a preview of what deliciousness is inside. After you pull them out of the oven, then top with the fresh herb garnish, if using.
The first time I made this recipe, which I don't think I have a photo of - I used the Cooking Light version of caramelized onions and used gruyere, as noted here (except I added bacon):
- 2 cups vertically sliced red onion
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sugar; sauté 8 minutes or until browned. Stir in sherry, Worcestershire, thyme, and garlic; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
I hope you enjoy this recipe - I think the presentation is unique but easy enough, and another great tip is you can make these ahead. Then before serving, bake in an oven until heated through and the cheese on top is melty. I'm not sure if you can freeze ahead, but if some one tries it, let me know. I seem to recall twice baked potatoes do usually freeze well, no?
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Calling all Peanut Butter and Chocolate lovers!!
We were having dinner guests over and I had plenty to do in the realm of dinner so I wanted a tasty, pretty but easy dessert. I also was in the middle of an unusual situation where most of my cake pans were in boxes and possibly in storage, though I was in my new house already. One thing I did have was my fluted false bottom tart pan. It's pretty big, 10 inches wide and 1 inch deep. I had this idea if I could use a brownie base in a tart pan shape, then I could maybe do some embellishments to make it into something new and special.
I'm not above using box mixes if I feel like it, and my favorite brownie mix is any kind of Ghirardelli. One of their brownie boxes - I usually go for Double chocolate - fills up my tart pan nicely. It baked in about the same time as you would expect a single layer of short brownies to bake - maybe a little less if your tart pan is bigger than your brownie pan, maybe more if vise versa - so keep your eye on it.
I cannot remember the specifics but The Husband was going to be out of town yet we were hosting some of his relatives whom we see maybe once a year. His sister and family and parents were there too so it was a nice group. This was a chance to make something The Husband hates and I never get to make - anything involving peanut butter! I love peanut butter. I know there are tons of people who don't like it. I, however, love love love it. We were having salmon for dinner, and PB/Chocolate in no way makes any sense for dessert, but I didn't care. The Husband was out of town and my mind was made up.
I had never made peanut butter frosting before and selected a recipe and it was ridiculously good. I would use it again in a heartbeat on chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake... Anything. For this peanut butter lover's chocolate tart, there were two other things I did to push it over the top. First I took several Reese's Peanut Butter cups and placed them inside of the brownie batter which I had just spread into the tart pan. I put in maybe 6 or more, so that every piece when sliced liked a pie, would get some extra peanut butter goodness. Lastly, after quickly piping on a basic design (just using a snipped ziploc bag as my pastry bag filled with the soft peanut butter frosting), I took it to one more degree of delish by adding toppings: some roasted spanish peanuts sprinkled on top, some shaved chocolate curls (use a vegetable peeler on a bar of any kind of chocolate), and a drizzle of Sander's milk chocolate hot fudge dessert topping (which, if you are from metro Detroit, is a decadent splurge just on its own).
Was it all too much? Probably, but I love chocolate and peanut butter and was sorry I only had a small triangle since we had so many people over. I sent the last piece with our out-of-town relatives instead of hoarding it like a pig (though it did cross my piglet mind). A small piece was great with some ice cream - the Reese's PB cups were taken over by the dark fudgy brownies and rich and sweet peanut butter frosting. Yes, it was sweet on sweet on sweet. Probably wouldn't win any Top Chef competitions due to its lack of balance.. and store bought brownie mix. I'm OK with that! It was delicious and you probably know a chocolate and peanut butter lover as well - I know they will love this easy dessert.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Brownie Tart
By Kitchen Bliss
1 box Ghirardelli brownie mix
1 recipe Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frostin' (see recipe below)
6 or 8 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Sander's milk chocolate hot fudge topping
1 chocolate bar, such as semi sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate
1/2 cup of spanish peanuts
Mix up brownie batter according to directions on box and spread into a large tart pan with removable bottom (10 inches wide, 1 inch tall -- or use a 10 inch springform pan). Unwrap Reese's PB cups and press into the brownie batter in whatever pattern you'd like. Bake according to box, checking early and remove from oven when just set, for fudgy brownies.
Mix up peanut butter frosting recipe. After brownie cools, remove from springform pan or tart pan and transfer to serving plate. Decorate with frosting in any manner you choose and then top with toppings.
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frostin'
Originally from the recipe seen on the A Cooking Bookworm blog.
1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (half a stick) softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup of creamy peanut butter (do not use 'natural,' the kind you need to stir)
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
Cream the soft cream cheese (nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds, if you forgot to leave it out for a few hours) and together with a mixer. Stir in vanilla and peanut butter. Slowly add the powdered sugar and add enough cream or milk to make it spreadable or pipe-able - whatever consistency you'd like.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I am often looking for simple recipes with natural ingredients and no nuts so that I can feel good about sending in a home baked treat with my young children to school. For Son #1's birthday, I know he doesn't care for cake and besides his obligatory birthday cake and ice cream for his party, which he didn't touch, I wanted to make him something he loves - cookies. I ordered some cute dinosaur cookie cutters from Amazon and it matched a few other dino-themed things I had going on for the party. I quickly made up a basic icing out of powder sugar and milk with some fun colors and sent a big batch of iced dinosaur cut outs for his class in pre-school and served the rest at the party. These cookies were soo good. I liked them way better than cake and ice cream, too. You could spend a lot more time decorating them than I did (I spared you the close up photo of the sloppy dino decor), and they were a bit delicate but dinosaur cookies have a lot of small body parts sticking out which easily break off. The taste and quality were worth it. I would possibly roll them out thicker so they would hold up better next time, like I did with the hearts below.
When Valentine's Day rolled around, I wanted to make this recipe again and create simple cut out hearts for Son #2's potluck lunch at school. Since the kids are only 1 year old, just simple sprinkles on top were a fitting decoration and made this a doable recipe on a busy weeknight.
I found this recipe by googling "bakery style cut out cookies" and eventually finding a recommendation to this shortbread Joy of Baking recipe. I love it, I will definitely only use this recipe for cut out cookies going forward.
See Recipe Below, originally from: Joy of Baking
In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt. Set aside.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
You can stick to traditional Thanksgiving foods that you know and love, or it can be a great time to try new twists on traditions, try out new recipes, and share new experiences. I seriously contemplated attempting a Turducken. I researched it for days - three meats layered with three types of stuffings - this could be really good! I also kept running into reviews of it being "just so-so" and eventually we decided on going a different route that we were more familiar with - a deep fried turkey.
You can organize your Friendsgiving any way you'd like, but our friends typically conducted it in a "pot-luck style" fashion. The host handles the turkey, gravy, etc - and the other invitees fill in the menu with other holiday favorites like stuffing, sweet potatoes, corn, rolls, vegetables, desserts and appetizers. You can really great creative with menu items and the pot-luck style helps spread out the cooking effort.
This was our first formal dinner party in our new house and I spent most of the time just prepping the house, unpacking my party serveware and making updates to personalize our home a little.
Did you see that magnetic chalkboard with the Friendsgiving sign above? That was one of my little projects I just had to do the week before the party. I had wanted a magnet board somewhere in the kitchen as well as a chalkboard, but some of the custom ones online looked quite expensive and never combined them both. Then, when I was at Ikea, I saw they had a totally affordable magnetic board and they said you could cover it with fabric and hot glue it in the back- cool, that's something I can do! More graphic prints that I love! I quickly googled to see if there were any magnetic backed chalkboards and Amazon had this awesome "ziggy board" which is way better than a chalkboard because these pens are brighter, easier to use, and wipe right off with water. Love it! Now I can use the chalkboard for reminders or menu lists, and use my personalized magnets for invites and other papers. When I get sick of the pattern, I can just rip it off and change it.
My mom is a wreath wiz and made me this super cute fall wreath (I glittered the B and added that), too bad hardly anyone uses our front door! Haha! I pressed these leaves and used some for decorations on my table as well. My mom was a big help with this party and she listened to all my ideas and gave me lots of great advice on the food and decorating!
I decided on a buffet-style way to serve the food - lay it all out in the kitchen for everyone to help themselves - and this left more room for decorating the table. This was more elaborate than I've ever done in the past so I had a lot of fun buying a new chevron runner from Etsy, making nice floral arrangements, pressing leaves, and adding other touches of fall decor with candles.
More flowers on the table and also an extra arrangement in a green vase - even several days later I am enjoying the flowers!
First and foremost, spiced nuts from Martha Stewart! They were the very yummiest homemade nuts I've ever had. I got the idea from watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" where Giada was talking about some rosemary nuts from a bar/restaurant in NYC. I tried that recipe the weekend before Friendsgiving but it was not quite sweet enough and too salty. Martha had a similar recipe but featured more butter and sugar so I knew that would be perfect and it was! The only thing her recipe was missing was a dash of cayenne so I added that, but it could have used some more to get a little spice going. Definitely try these - it's a perfect appetizer for holiday cocktail parties, the rosemary is very interesting and matches great especially with pecans - I used about 90% pecans vs the other nuts.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe here.
2 cups mixed nuts, such as cashews, walnuts, and pecans
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I added this myself - add spice to your taste preference!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast nuts until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large skillet, heat butter, sugar, and rosemary over medium-high. Add nuts; stir until butter mixture is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Spread nuts on prepared baking sheet; season with salt. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.
When I made it, I had extra butter/sugar chunks and it made for really tasty large brittle-like texture. I made three batches (6 cups of nuts) and had 1 cup leftover, for 11 people. They were delicious the next day, as well, so this is a good make-ahead dish. The problem is it's hard to ever have any leftover! We had impromptu guests a few days later so I made a 1.5 batch and I wish I had made more, it was only 3 people eating but it's mostly gone!
I forgot to take a picture, but I used cute bamboo skewers with a twist at one end to secure them. Bacon is obviously delicious and this is a great tapas-style appetizer that is easy to put together and can be served room temperature! I tried this recipe the week before with my mom, half with goat cheese with herbs and half with blue cheese. I liked the herbs but the blue cheese gave the best tang! The dates are sweet like caramel candy, the bacon is salty and smokey, and the blue cheese inside breaks it all up with a tangy bite. Yum! Here is a photo of what they look like from the blog The Sweets Life:
I was looking up ideas for fall cocktails and came across a Pear / Prosecco combination from Claire Robinson which I wanted to try. This was my "welcome" cocktail and it was pretty tasty though I'm not a big anise/licorice fan. Of course it's more of a girly drink and I wasn't thinking about the fact that most of my guests were either children, pregnant or men. Those of us who tried it enjoyed it and now I have a bottle of pear liqueur to figure out what to do with! I used my mom's gold champagne glasses on a silver tray for presentation. Would I make it again? No. But, it looked cool. As an aside, have you seen these super cute chalkboards I'm using for labeling foods? I saw them at Crate and Barrel a year or two ago and finally got to use them for this party. They came with some chalk but the ziggy pen from my ziggy board worked WAY better! Love it!
Recipe from Claire Robinson, found here here
2 cups pear nectar
1 cup pear liqueur (recommended: Poire William)
2 star anise
4 bottles Prosecco
In a small saucepan over moderate heat, add the nectar, pear liqueur and star anise. Bring up to a boil and turn heat off. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then discard the star anise. Cool to room temperature and chill until ready to use.
To serve, drop 1 cranberry to the bottom of each champagne coupe or flute. Add 2 tablespoons of the spiced pear mixture for coupe glasses and 3 tablespoons for the flute glasses. Top with Prosecco and enjoy!
I liked the cranberry floating in the glass. I only opened one bottle of sparkling wine, Asti Spumanti, as that was more than plenty for the two people who were partaking!
After frying our cajun-seasoned (cajun and poultry seasoning rub and creole butter injection) 18 lb turkey for an hour or so, it was perfectly golden brown. I should have taken a picture of it before carving but trust me in saying it had the most beautiful crispy brown skin! Success! Our friend expertly carved it and he did a wonderful job, it looked beautiful on the platter and all of the sides that everyone contributed looked great, too. Finally it was time to eat! We had 11 adults and the 18 lb turkey was just the right size, hardly any leftovers.
I didn't get all the recipes from everyone but everyone totally loved Karen's sweet potatoes - check out her recipe below - I have always wanted to try one of these casseroles with the marshmallows on top and I was so glad she brought this!!