Monday, April 27, 2009
So the second recipe for Barefoot Bloggers this month was Ina's take on the Croque Monsieur. Being the relatively uncultured, I had no idea what this would involve. I knew it was a sandwich that I had to use copious amounts of cheese.
Holy. Wow. If you ever get a cheese craving, this will squash that in a heartbeat. Thank you a million times over, Kathy from All Food Considered, because this was ah-mazing.
I apologize for the lack of pictures, but (like the Brownie Pudding) this was the second attempt at taking a picture before they were inhaled! Who knew that my mother-in-law, who is not a fan of dijon or Gruyere, would love them so much?!
My only cheat? They are entirely vegetarian! Instead of ham, I used another Yves Veggie Cuisine item, called "Veggie Ham", and it was actually really good. The Hubs was completely fooled. :-D
To try and make up for all of the cheese, I added some fresh veggies and dip (which isn't pictured). Of course, Hubs passed on the vegetables, but I just couldn't let those cute little asparagus and broccoli spears and red pepper pieces go to waste, so that was my lunch plate for the afternoon.
Like always, check out the other BB members for their ridiculously gorgeous pictures.
Ok, I'll admit it- I'm wasn't a HUGE cheesecake fan. I'd eat it if I was in a certain mood, but I didn't go out of my way to order it for dessert if we were out at dinner. This makes it a bit funny when my family makes special requests for my double-layer pumpkin pie cheesecake at Thanksgiving, because they always look at me funny when I say I don't want any. lol
Thanks to our brilliant host, my entire outlook on cheesecake has changed. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. And boy what a choice it was.
Creamy. Sweet. Slightly tangy. Perfectly smooth on top. This recipe has completely converted me to the "dark side". It took massive amounts of will power to not eat half of the pan for breakfast.
Although, we did enjoy a generous portion for breakfast anyway. :-D
The texture was amazing. I chose simple flavors, since I wasn't feeling particularly creative and I wasn't a cheesecake person. I used an extra tsp. of vanilla extract and Kahlua for my liquer choice, and the slight coffee flavor blended well with my chocolate cookie crust.
As a side note, I tried to "wing it" and make an Oreo crust, which I've never done before. Too many cookies with not enough butter quickly turned into too much butter with not enough cookie crumbs. I now have a container with roughly 3 cups of Oreo/butter/cocoa powder liquid sitting on my counter until I can figure out something to do with it.
Make sure to check out other Daring Bakers' blogs for wildly creative twists, both savoury and sweet, on this incredible recipe. And definitely visit Jenny Bakes for the recipe. You won't regret it!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I SWEAR I'm going to post the 2nd Barefoot Bloggers' recipe tomorrow... I've been a complete slacker this month, but I think I deserve it since I took my last final EVER last Wednesday! YAY for finally having a Bachelor's degree! lol
In the next week, there will be Barefoot Bloggers, Daring Bakers, AND I have a couple of new recipes I can't wait to try. :-D So please keep visiting because I promise you won't be disappointed.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
So, I've sort of been slacking off in the kitchen lately... not that I don't cook dinner anymore, but I've fallen into that rut of making the same family-approved dinners over and over again. Instead of wallowing in my laziness, I thought I'd share some of it.
Lazy, crazy, messy dinner ahoy!
My mother-in-law brought home a can of sloppy joe mix a while back (a very well-known brand who shall remain nameless), and made it for Hubs for the first time ever! Who knew you could make it 27 years on this planet and never have sloppy joes?! My mind was thoroughly boggled.
However, I was curious and wanted to check out the ingredient list. I wasn't thrilled to see high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient, so I wanted to try and make my own sauce. After many, many tries, this recipe is now my stand-by.
A bonus: it's super fast, and takes the same amount of time as opening a can. Plus you can adjust each ingredient to suit your own tastes, AND you can add other chopped veggies to up the nutritional value. Just soften them with the onions in the beginning, and you're sneaking veggies into your diet! :)
Homemade Sloppy Joes
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, minced
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
3/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, soften the onions in olive oil. Add the garlic & ground beef, and brown. Drain off liquids.
2. Toss in bell pepper and cook for a couple of minutes to soften them.Stir in mustard, ketchup, worchestershire and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
You can make it as sloppy as you like... If I have it, sometimes I add 1/4-1/3 c. of BBQ sauce too. All the measurements above are approximate because they've been adjusted to my family's taste. :)
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wow. I cannot believe that I'm 25 today. Yes, I know most people would scoff, but I'm not where I thought I would be at 25, so it's been a weird day. However, any and all birthday wishes are welcome. :-D
Another great thing about today is that it's the first Barefoot Bloggers' recipe for April!! The wonderful Kenzie of Kenzie's Kitchen chose Ina's Chinese Chicken Salad, and I cannot sing enough praises for it. I've made it TWICE in the past week and it's disappeared before sunset each time!
Although, as it was being devoured today by other people in the research lab I volunteer in, the flavors are more Thai-influenced rather than Chinese. Regardless of where the flavor profile comes from, it is delicious, super easy, and can feed a crowd. I made a 1/2 recipe the first time, for my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and myself and we each had a couple of servings. I made the full recipe this morning for my lab-mates, and it served 8 people, who each had at least 2 small bowls.
The first time I made this recipe, I was feeling adventurous and had a craving for Asian-inspired recipes, so I made Garlic Scallion Noodles from Steamy Kitchen to go with the chicken salad.
O. M. G. The combination of flavors between these two recipes is out of this world. My only deviation was to add some soy sauce to the noodles, since they were a bit too sweet for a savoury dish (in my humble opinion). Once the soy was added though, it took all the will power I had not to eat the entire pan. I kept performing "quality control tests", just to make sure they were good and I wasn't just blinded by hunger goggles.
Chinese Chicken Salad (by Ina Garten)
4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
Good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.
2. Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
3. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.
4. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
5. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Check out the other BB members for their take on Ina's recipe, since other people's experiences may have been different! :)
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I feel like a complete dolt for not posting sooner, but life has just taken over at the moment. Between getting over being sick, dealing with the last paper and tests of my undergraduate college career (WOOHOO!), and finally having something of a social life, my poor little corner of the web has gone neglected. NO MORE! lol I have a post with a couple of Barefoot Blogger recipes I did on the deadline but didn't get to post about, plus a little extra about Persian New Year (Norooz) that should have been put up 2 weeks ago!
So a belated Norooz Mobarak... from my sad little haft sin.
As I've talked about before, Hubs and his family are Persian while I'm about as white as you can get. We have a very interesting mix of traditions and one of them includes celebrating Norooz, the Persian New Year which happens on the first day of spring. The major element of celebrating is having a proper "haft sin", which is a table covered in a sofreh (Farsi for "tablecloth") topped with seven items starting with sin, S in the Farsi alphabet. Typical items include:
Sabzeh, green wheat grass, on the left of the table, which signifies rebirth
Sekkeh, usually coins, the Persian money sticking out the glass towards the front, representing wealth, which we could always use more of, right? lol
Sir, garlic, to the left of the apple, which symbolizes medicine
Sumac/Somaq, dried ground sumac berries, in the glass in front of the apple, which signifies the color of the sunrise
Sib, apple, behind the sumac, representing health and beauty
Samanu, sweet dark pudding made from wheat berries, in the glass to the right of the apple, which stands for affluence and power
Serkeh, white vinegar, in the glass in front of the fruit, which symbolizes patience and age
Sonbol, hyacinth plant, on the right of the table
Senjed, dried oleaster fruit, which represents love
A mirror is placed in the center to represent cleanliness and honesty, with candles on either side for enlightenment and happiness (there is usually 1 candle for each young person in the family). The Qur'an is placed there to show spirituality.
There were supposed to be a goldfish in a bowl and decorated eggs (similar to Easter eggs!), but they symbolize life and fertility, and I don't think we need to "promote" fertility any time soon. lol Hubs and I have been married for 4 years, and we still aren't quite ready for kids. :-D
Tomorrow is Sizdeh Bedar, Farsi for "thirteen to out"- it is the 13th day of the New Year festival, and everyone is supposed to be outside (out of the house at least) from sunrise to sunset. At the end of the day, the sabzeh is taken from the haft sin and thrown into a body of water to throw "demons" out of the household. Maybe this year, my sister-in-law will tie some of the strands together, since young unmarried women are supposed to do this to show that they want to be married before the next Sizdeh Bedar! Hehehehehe... Or maybe I just want to be a bridesmaid. lol
The food for Norooz wasn't entirely exciting, plus it was inhaled quickly, so I didn't get any pictures of it. The traditional foods are white fish with sabzi polo, which is white basmati rice cooked with green herbs, but we also had ghormeh sabzi, which is a meat stew with red kidney beans and cooked greens (cilantro, parsley, onion, spinach, fenugreek, etc.), and various vegetables.
If you want to know more about Norooz, visit Wikipedia and read about it! :) Even President Obama had a Norooz greeting, which I thought was pretty nifty.
Now, on to the Barefoot Bloggers recipes that I've gotten so behind on... I already posted about the Sauteed Broccolini, but admittedly I made it with baby broccoli. Broccolini is incredibly hard to come by, so baby broccoli was the next best thing!
I can't wait to use this recipe over and over again, and it's such simple flavors that can be easily translated to other veggies! Thanks to Mary of Meet Me in the Kitchen for picking it as the other March BRC.
The March BRC that I picked has been more elusive than the broccolini... I've made the Brownie Pudding THREE times, and every time it disappears before I can get a picture. I even made it on Monday, in hopes of getting a picture of it, and it's already gone! lol If that's not a testament of how good it is, I don't know what is. The top is meringue-like, the underneath is like brownie batter- thick, rich, gooey, sweet. If you have PMS, make this, and just eat it straight from the pan. Trust me.
The last Barefoot Bloggers recipe for March was chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry, and she lovingly chose Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts.
Oh. My. God.
These were so delicious. I was tempted to make a short cut and just cut my puff pastry into squares, but I followed instructions and made 6 in. circles. I can't tell you how many people the next day said my "little pizza" looked amazing, and they were gobsmacked that I made it myself! lol The only substitutions I made was that I used Asiago instead of Parm on the bottom (still used shaved Parm on top) and I used roma tomatoes, which means I used 4 slices of tomato per tart. I think it really added to the complexity and made it a teeny bit more substantial. Or maybe I'm just hungry while I remember how tasty these were... Heh.
So after this ridiculously long post, if you're still reading, I swear I will post more often. My birthday is next week, so I've got lots of stuff to make! :-D