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Showing posts from June, 2008

Beautiful Danish Pastry Braid!

This is my 5th Daring Bakers Challenge, and I have to say that this was my favorite! I've always wanted to try baking a pastry, so when I found out what this month's challenge was, I was pretty excited! After completing this challange, I've added a few new words to my baking vocabulary such as "butter-laminated dough", "Beurrage", and "Detrempe." FYI: Laminated Dough - layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough Beurrage – butter block (this is the butter that is sandwiched in the dough) Detrempe – ball of dough Interesting, huh? I only wish that the process of making these braids and pastries were faster...it ended up being a 2-day process. I can't complain though, because that only makes you savor the final product more! This was my first attempt at laminated dough. I found completing the "turns" and folds to be fun. My butter block stayed in place, which made the process pretty easy. It just takes a l

Purple Potato Gratin

So, I'm strolling the produce section at Whole Foods last week, and what do I see?...Purple potatoes! I didn't think twice...I snatched them up, excited about making some sort of fun, purple dish. I googled purple potato recipes and a plethora of different things came up. I decided to not go too crazy...I mean, I was using PURPLE potatoes after all...haha. I chose to stick with a classic gratin recipe. I came across THIS recipe at "Eating Out Loud." It looked and sounded delish. Sadly, I didn't have any bacon on-hand. I know...tragic, right?? This dish would have been so much better with the bacon. I also didn't have any shallots, but I used an onion instead. DID YOU KNOW? " Purple Potatoes also called Blue Potatoes or Delta Blues truly are naturally purple! This is from the same powerful antioxidant that give blueberries their brilliant color. Purple Peruvian Potatoes were some of the first potatoes harvested. They were saved for Inca kings. Used i

Giada's Chicken Piccata

***This dish is not only pretty...it is delicious! It had been awhile since I've made one of Giada's recipes, so I thought I'd give this one a go. I've been wanting to try capers...I'd never had them before making this. I was worried that Brad wouldn't like them, but this actually turned out to be one of his favorite meals! I'll no doubt be making this one again. After reading the reviews on http://www.foodnetwork.com/ , I found that a number of people thought the 1/3 cup lemon juice was too much. I only used the juice of 1 medium lemon...I'm not sure how that compares to 1/3 cup, but it turned out perfect! It had a mild, lemony (is that a word?) taste without being over-powering.*** In the skillet... Ingredients: 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper All-purpose flour, for dredging 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/3 cup fresh lemon juic

Jazzed Up Greek Chicken Pasta

The "Greek Chicken Pasta" that I originally posted HERE has become one of my favorite, turn-to dinners. Maybe it's the combo of the pasta, chicken, and feta cheese. Either way, both Brad and I love Italian and Greek food, so this one is naturally one of our favs. I recently jazzed it up a bit by simply adding fresh baby spinach near the end of the cooking process. It's just a simple, easy addition that kicks it up a notch. Anyways, I just wanted to share this idea and a new photo. Enjoy!

I "LOVE" Blueberry Pancakes!

Yes...MORE blueberries! Just look at these pancakes...they were so much fun to make!!! The recipe certainly isn't anything too fancy or complicated. I just whipped up some mix by following the pancake recipe on the Bisquick box...then I added beautiful, fresh blueberries. I love this time of year! There's a multitude of fresh produce at all the markets. I have a confession to make, though...I have yet to make it to the local Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. I have GOT to go! Until now, the extent of my pancake skills have been limited to Mickey Mouse ears...hah. I was able to make these pancakes into heart shapes by using a handy little heart-shaped pancake tool. I can't remember where I found them. They came in a pack of two. The pancakes turned out to be really thick. I was worried that they wouldn't be cooked all the way through, but they were. So yummy! This is a breakfast you won't be able to eat without a smile on your face.

Blueberry Scones

I have to admit, I saw THESE scones on Katie's blog a while back and I've been thinking about them ever since...haha. They looked SO good! Like Katie's husband, Brad loves the scones at Starbucks. Actually he loves Starbucks, period. Believe it or not, Brad and I first met while working together in a coffee shop. Pretty romantic, huh? Needless to say, we are big coffee fans. The baristas know Brad's order before he even rolls his car window down...lol. Lately, his orders usually include a scone...the flavor varies depending on what they have available. When I mentioned making homemade blueberry scones, he was in complete agreement! Last Sunday, I finally had the blueberries and extra time to make these scones. The blueberries were calling my name! So, I gave in...it didn't take much convincing. Here they are! Ingredients: 2 cups flour, plus 2 Tbsp, plus 1 Tbsp 1 Tbsp baking powder 3 Tbsp sugar 1/8 tsp salt 6 Tbsp butter, plus 1/2 Tbsp, chilled 1 Tbsp vanilla 1

Tilapia With Zucchini and Tomatoes en Papillote

***I love cooking with tilapia...it's light, fresh, and doesn't have that strong "fishy" taste. I've made it a number of ways...broiled, fried, baked...pecan-crusted, lemon-flavored, etc. But, I have to say that this recipe from Cooks Illustrated is one of my favorite tilapia recipes I've prepared. The fish came out incredibly tender and moist, with a great flavor. This is certainly because of the way it's cooked...in a packet of aluminum foil. This is one of those dishes that won't leave you feeling too stuffed. It's light but very satisfying. I might be making it again tonight for dinner...it's that good!*** "En Papillote" (a.k.a. - foil packet) Ingredients: 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons) 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes Salt and ground black pepper 3 medium plum tomatoes (about 12 ounces), cored, seeded,

Banana Bread with Pecans

Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 overripe bananas 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped Confectioners' sugar, for dusting Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the

Italian-Style Chicken with Sausage, Peppers, & Onions

***Here's yet another delicious recipe from Cook's Illustrated . It's definitely a little spicy, and I even left out the hot cherry peppers. I served it with mashed potatoes and French bread. M'mm, M'mm Good!*** Ingredients: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage , casings removed 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves , trimmed of excess fat and skin and cut crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces Table salt and ground black pepper 1 medium onion , halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1 1/4 cups) 1 large red bell pepper , stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch strips (about 1 1/2 cups) 3–5 pickled hot cherry peppers , stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch strips (about 1/4 cup)... (I left these out) 3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon) 2 teaspoons granulated sugar 1/3 cup white wine vinegar plus 2 additional tablespoons 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth plus 1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Chocolate Kahlua Cake

***It's definitely not a birthday around this house without a scrumptious, homemade birthday cake! My sweet mom-in-law recently celebrated her birthday. Her request?...A cake with chocolate and coffee flavors reminiscent of the groom's cake at our wedding. I searched and searched, determined to find the perfect recipe. I hit the jack-pot with one of my Southern Living cookbooks. The cake was a tremendous success! The Kahlua adds the perfect little "something" to the cake, without being overpowering. The cake was so good, that I just made it again for Jessica's birthday. When making this cake, or any other cake for that matter, a good tip is to always have all of your ingredients at room temperature before starting. This includes eggs, cream cheese, milk, etc.*** Chocolate Kahlua Cake The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook Ingredients: 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 3/4 cups sugar 4 large eggs 1/4 cup Kahlua 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp. baking

Italian Pot Roast

***Pot roast is one of those comforting, yummy meals that you look forward to on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Growing up, my Mom always made a traditional pot roast. You know...roast, potatoes, carrots, onions...slowly cooked in a Crock Pot all afternoon long. So good! I've never even thought to cook a pot roast any other way until opening the recent "The Best of America's Test Kitchens - Best Recipes and Reviews 2008." There it was...Italian Pot Roast a.k.a. stracotto . I never would have thought to put this twist on a roast, but let me just tell you...it was probably the best pot roast I've ever had. It's absolutely PACKED with flavor, and the meat is so tender that it just melts in your mouth. It was such a nice change from what I'm used to. Don't get me wrong, I still love our traditional roast, but this one has earned a spot on my favorites list. I will no doubt be making this recipe for years to come!*** Italian Pot Roast Serves 4 to 6 Ingredie

Roasted Fresh Asparagus with Hazelnut Butter

***Here's another great recipe from my new Biltmore Estate cookbook. One of our favorite veggies is fresh asparagus, so selecting this recipe from the book was a no-brainer. I also just so happened to have the Frangelico from the Giandua Souffle that I made a while back. It was delicious...and we have most of the Hazelnut Butter left over to add to other dishes. It would be good added to something like mashed potatoes. YUM!*** Roasted Fresh Asparagus Ingredients: 1 lb. green asparagus, trimmed and peeled 2 tbsp. EVOO 2 tsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. kosher salt 1 tsp. pepper 3 tbsp. Hazelnut Butter (below) Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt and pepper in a bowl, coating well. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes or until tender. Serve with the Hazelnut Butter. *************************************************** Hazelnut Butter Ingredients: 1/3 cup crushed toasted hazelnuts 1/2 cup (1 stick

Live, Eat, Shop, REUSE

"Would you like paper or plastic?" "Umm...neither!" has been my answer recently. One day as I was patiently waiting for the cashier to scan my goodies at The Fresh Market, I spied a trendy looking, reusable grocery bag. I mean, how smart is that? I quickly snatched one up and added it to my loot. At under $1, it was a bargain. Plus, who could resist the cute carrot graphic on the front? Now I wish that I had bought more, because the particular Fresh Market that I frequent hasn't gotten anymore in. After some additional research, I found out exactly how bad plastic bags are for the environment. I've always been one to recycle, especially after purchasing our first home and having the option to put a recycling bin next to the curb every Sunday night. I have no excuse now...just toss the assorted cola cans, plastic bottles, cereal boxes, etc. in a bin and someone comes to collect the contents every week. It makes me feel good to do a little something extra fo