Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Goodness

Now that I am getting back into the swing of things after a crazy busy holiday season, cooking and blogging are at the top of my list of things to do.  For Christmas I got a new Le Creuset Dutch Over, and I couldn't be more excited.  I have never had one before, and I have been researching lots of new recipes to try.  One of my New Year's resolutions is to try harder recipes.  I haven't been one to bake too often, so I am going to try my hand at more of that as well. 

I know I am behind on posting all of my holiday recipes, but I am going to go ahead and post them all together anyways because some of them aren't holiday specific.  Enjoy!

Alton Brown's Cranberry Sauce


1 pound fresh cranberries, approximately 4 cups
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup 100% cranberry juice, not cocktail
1 cup honey


Wash the cranberries and discard any that are soft or wrinkled.  Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice, and honey in a 2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens.  Do not cook for more than 15 minutes as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.  To unmold and serve, immerse bottom of mold in hot water for 10-15 seconds and turn upside down on a plate or serving dish.  If necessary, carefully run a warm knife around the edge of the mold.

Cinnamon Sugared Pecans

Just a warning, you definitely can't just eat a couple of these.  This was my first time making them, and we all loved them!
1 large egg white
3 cups pecan halves
1/3 cup cinnamon and sugar
2 teaspoons good vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
For cinnamon and sugar mixture:
Use 1 tablespoon cinnamon to 1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Whisk the egg white in a cup.  Pour the egg white over the pecans, stirring until they are coated.  In a small bowl, stir the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and salt together.  Add the cinnamon sugar mixture to the nuts, a little at a time, while stirring.  Spread the coated nuts on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes without stirring.  Use a spatula to remove the nuts from the hot baking sheet immediately.  Allow to cool thoroughly before storing in a tightly closed container.  Store in a cool place.
Pretzel Hugs
My brother is one of the pickiest dessert eaters, which is weird coming from our family, but these he loved.  They couldn't be easier to make, and everyone will enjoy them.
2 bags of Hershey Hugs
1 pound bag of waffle pretzels
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Unwrap Hugs.  Line baking sheet with wax paper, for easy removal.  Lay one pretzel down and top with a Hug.  Bake for 2 minutes, until they are glossy and soft.  Remove from the oven and let sit one more minute, allow more time to soften.  Top each Hug with another pretzel pushing down gently until it sticks.  Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow them to cool.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time to Break Out the Slow Cooker

On the first chilly day we had I was ready to break out my slow cooker.  I started my fall cooking off with Stuffed Green Peppers.  They were really good, but depending on taste, I would cut back on some of the ketchup used in the mixture and the topping.  They were so good with a side of garlic mashed potatoes!  Enjoy!
6 green bell peppers
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup ketchup
1 cup cornflakes
1 tbs chili powder

2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs mustard powder
1 tbs red wine vinegar

Prepare Peppers: cut off tops, remove seeds, and discard.  Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Add peppers and cook about 5 minutes.  Remove from pot and set aside.

Combine ground beef, onion, eggs, ketchup, cornflakes, and chili powder in a large bowl.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Spoon meat mixture into peppers and place upright in a 5 qt or larger slow cooker.

Prepare Sauce: combine ketchup, tomato paste, brown sugar, mustard powder, and vinegar in a small bowl.  Pour over peppers.

Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, or until beef if cooked through.

Can't Take Credit

Whenever my boyfriend, Skirell, offers to make dinner I generally get kicked out of the kitchen.  I think I may have a tendency to try to take over things...I am working on it.  This time I got to make dessert!  He handed me the recipe and the ingredients for me to make, while he took care of dinner.  We had Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, Goody Girl Championship Potatoes, Apple Sauce (I need it anytime I eat pork), and Apple Crisp for dessert.  Everything turned out amazing, especially the potatoes!  Enjoy!
Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, Goody Girl Championship Potatoes, and Apple Sauce

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick) center cut pork loin chops ( about 10-12 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tbs olive oil
Lemon wedges for serving

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Goody Girl Championship Potatoes
1 package dry form crab boil
3 lbs red potatoes
1 lb thick cut bacon, diced
1 cup diced red onion
1 tbs minced garlic
1/4 lb butter, at room temperature
1/4 lb finely shredded cheddar
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup sour cream

Fill a 6-quart pot 2/3 full of water; add the crab boil and mix until blended. Cut the potatoes in half and slice into 3/8-inch thick pieces. (This can be done ahead of time; cover the potatoes with ice water until ready to cook.) Add the potatoes to the pot. Bring water to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork-tender.
While the potatoes are cooking: in a medium saute pan on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy; remove and drain on a paper towel. Add red onion to bacon grease; cook until caramelized. Just before onions are done, add garlic and cook until lightly brown.
In a bowl, place butter, 1/2 the cheese, 1/2 the bacon bits, 1/2 the green onions, the cooked red onions and garlic, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and sour cream; mix together thoroughly.  Strain potatoes and add to bowl; let stand for a few minutes or until cheese starts to melt . Fold ingredients together, trying not to break up the potatoes excessively. Top with remaining cheese, bacon, and green onions.
Check seasonings and adjust to taste.

Apple Crisp

5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped small
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs lemon juice

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs chilled butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  For the filling: mix all ingredients together.  Place in 7-8 ounce ramekins(I just used a casserole dish).  For the topping: mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps.  Stir in pecans and sprinkle over filling.  Bake crisps for 35-40 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Polish Spaghetti, or Roman Spaghetti?

  Ever since us kids were little, our first request when visiting my grandparents in Detroit was to have Polish spaghetti.  For years it has been our favorite, and it still is, but we were recently told there is no such thing as Polish spaghetti.  Apparently, someone (or one of us kids) started calling it that and it just kind of stuck.  I am pretty sure all of my cousins did the same thing, feel free to correct me if you guys didn't.  Polish spaghetti, to us, was pretty much just a tomato sauce with tomatoes my grandma canned herself from her garden.  It was simple and we all loved it, but maybe it was more of the feeling of being at grandma and grandpa's that made special. 
    I have a new cookbook called The Kitchen Bible, and it is the best.  There are so many pictures, which are a necessity for me when it comes to cook books.  If you are looking for a new cookbook with things you haven't tried, but still things that are your favorites, this is a good one to try.  Tonight I tried a new recipe from it called 'Spaghetti- Roman Style'.  It was a spiced up version of Polish spaghetti and something I will definitely make again.  It is quick and has a little kick to it, depending on how much crushed red pepper you use.  Enjoy your Roman (Polish) spaghetti!
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 oz pancetta, cut into thin strips
3/4 cup dry wine (I used Chardonnay)
one 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
salt and crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring for 3 minutes, or until softened.  Add the pancetta and continue cooking, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the pancetta is lightly browned.

Add the wine and cook about 5 minutes, or until it evaporates by half.  Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, reduce the heat to low, and simmer briskly for 15 minutes, or until thickened.  Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Stir in the spaghetti, and cook according to the package instructions, or until al dente.  Drain well.  Add to the sauce and stir well.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.  Serve hot, with additional cheese passed on the side.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bacon Makes Everything Better

I bought a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine a year ago because of the picture of the mac and cheese on the cover.  It may have taken me a year, but I finally made it.  It was so good and easy!  Perfect fall weather food!  Enjoy!

Emeril's Three Cheese Baked Macaroni
Coarse Salt
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
3 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 large eggs
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar (6 oz)
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (2 oz)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (1 oz)

1.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni 6 minutes (it will be undercooked).  Drain.  Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium and add bacon.  Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.  With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a medium bowl.  Add macaroni and stir to combine.  

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and evaporated milk.  Add 1/2 tsp salt, cayenne nutmeg, and cheeses; mix well.  Add macaroni mixture and stir well to combine.  Transfer to a 8" or 9" square baking dish or 2 quart gratin dish.  With a spoon, gently spread mixture to form an even layer.  Bake just until sauce is bubbling at edges, 12 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4-6.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's About Time!

I have not blogged in so long!  This summer has been a crazy one with the theatre, taking Michael to college at University of Michigan, and enjoying our time together.  We had a bbq the week before Michael left, and I tried out two new salads and my favorite taco dip.  Enjoy!

Watermelon Feta Salad
Whisk one part white wine vinegar with three parts olive oil, and salt & pepper.  Toss with baby arugula, red onion slices, watermelon cubes, crumbled feta, nicoise (or kalamata) olives, and fresh oregano.  It is such a refreshing salad!

Family Pasta Salad
1 package (16 oz) uncooked elbow pasta
1 package (8 oz) mild cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 small carrot grated
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 container (8 oz) plain fat-free yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package.  Place frozen peas in a small colander and rinse under cold water to thaw; drain.  Place pasta in a large bowl, add cheese cubes, peas, celery, onion, and carrot.  Mix gently.  Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, salt & pepper.  Stir into pasta mixture.  Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.  *I also added diced green peppers!

Taco Dip

This is pretty much my staple item to bring to any gathering.  By the end of any party, the plate is clean. 

1 packages cream cheese (softened)
1 jar Pace Picante Salsa Medium
1 lg green pepper
1 tomato
1 bag Mexican shredded cheese

 Mix cream cheese and salsa until mixture is light and fluffy.  Spread mixture on platter and cover with diced green pepper, diced tomato, and shredded cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips or vegetables.

I will be much better about posting my fall recipes!  It is my favorite season and I have some new cookbooks!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter

I feel like I have neglected my blog, so I thought I would update it with what I have been busy with at the theatre.  I work a lot with the bar (yes, we have a bar in our theatre), and we have been trying to come up with drinks that go with the new movies coming out.  Starting last night we are feature a Harry Potter drink called 'Purple Polyjuice Potion', and it is so good!  It is Raspberry Vodka, Blue Curacao, Sweet & Sour, Sprite, and topped with Grenadine.  If you are looking for a fun and easy drink to make at home, this is a good one!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Switching to Desserts

I never really included desserts in my ideas for cooking, so I decided to try my hand at a few for the holiday weekend.  I think I was going through withdrawals from not being able to cook for a week when I was out of town. 
Blueberry Fool

Cooking the blueberries

2 Cups Blueberries
1/4 Cup plus 1 Tbs Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Tsp Grated Lemon Zest
1 1/2 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/3 Cups Heavy Cream
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Shortbread or Wafer Cookies for Serving

Make the blueberry sauce:  Heat 1 1/2 cups blueberries, 1/4 cup sugar and the salt in the saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the blueberries are soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the lemon zest and juice; remove from the heat.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup blueberries and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Beat the heavy cream in a bowl with a mixer or whisk until soft peaks just begin to form.  Beat in the vanilla and the remaining1 tbs sugar.  Gently fold all but 1/3 cup of blueberry sauce into the whipped cream.  Divide among glasses and top with the remaining blueberry sauce.  Serve with cookies. 

Open-Faced Peach Tart

Blackberry Jam and Peaches

 1 Disk Refrigerated Pie Dough (half of a 14 oz package)
1/4 cup Blackberry Jam
1 Pound Peaches, peeled and pitted, cut into 1/4 inch wedges
1 Large Egg
1/4 Cup Raw Cane Sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Let the dough soften at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay the pie crust on the parchment paper.  Spread the blackberry jam on the crust, leaving a 2-inch clean border around the edge.  Arrange the peaches on top of the jam.  Fold the crust's edge inward, pleating as needed; leave the center of the tart exposed.  Press the dough lightly to seal.

Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; brush the egg wash on the dough and sprinkle with the sugar.  Bake until the crust is cooked through and golden brown, about 35 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream is desired.

Sweet and Sour

Faux Fruit Slices
I thought these Jello filled fruit slices were such a cute idea, and super quick and easy to make!

Cut 2 oranges and 4 lemons in half, scoop out the flesh, then put the rinds in a muffin tin to keep them level.  Boil 1 1/2 cups water, add two 3-ounce boxes orange Jello, mix and cook, stirring, 3 minutes; pour the mixture to the brim of each orange half.  Repeat with the lemons using lemon Jello.  Refrigerate 3 hours and slice into wedges.




Saturday, July 2, 2011

Snacks, Snacks, Snacks

  Anytime my friends and I get together I get excited to make my favorite appetizers/snacks.  About a week ago we had another get together before my best friend Allison and her husband moved to Kansas City.

  Sweet Crispix is definitely one of my favorites to make, and it is definitely addicting!

  1 Lg box Crispix
  1 Can Mixed Nuts
  2 Sticks Butter
  2 Cups Brown Sugar
  1/2 Cup Corn Syrup
Melt butter, add sugar, and corn syrup.  Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 1 1/2 minutes.  Pour cereal and nuts in a paper grocery bag (double bag).  Pour butter mixture over the cereal and nuts, close bag and shake to mix.  Microwave the mixture while still in the bag for 4 minutes, shaking the bag after each minute.  Pour onto wax paper sprayed with Pam and let cool. 

I went through a phase of being obsessed with Triscuits, and I still love them.  On the back of the Fire Roasted Tomato and Olive Oil flavor there is a really good recipe I have made a few times.  It is super quick and easy! 
Tuscan Herbed Ricotta
  1 Cup Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
  1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley or Chives
Mix ingredients and serve with Triscuits. 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Food Tour

Last weekend Skirell, my boyfriend, and I did a mini food tour of Minneapolis as his birthday present.  Luckily, we both love to cook and eat!  After researching some of the different restaurants that have been featured on TV shows, we settled on Al's Breakfast, The Weinery, and Matt's Bar.

Al's Breakfast was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2007.  It is in the Dinkytown neighborhood, right by the University of Minnesota campus.  It is the narrowest restaurant I have ever been in!  We waited an hour in a single file line against a wall, behind those eating, while waiting for them to finish.  The plus side to waiting was I could see what everyone else was ordering.  I decided to copy everyone else and go for the Blueberry pancakes and ordered it with a side of sour cream.  Strange, but someone else tried it, so I went with it.  Amazing!  For it just being breakfast, it was one of the best I have had.  If you are ever up there, or to my Minnesota friends, you need to go!
Us waiting for people to finish their breakfast so we could have a seat.

This shows how much room there is to stand behind those eating.  Those yellow books you see on the shelf are for people who pre-pay on their account.  They keep track by hand.

On Sunday, we went to The Weinery in the West Bank neighborhood.  It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2008.  I actually don't have any pictures from this place, because we didn't feel the most welcome.  Our server was nicer than I expected she would be in a place like that, but it was just an odd place.  The hot dogs were decent, but nothing to go crazy over.  Skirell got his wrapped in bacon, which he said was really good.  They did have really good fries though!  It definitely seemed to be a neighborhood place, but I think you can skip this one.

After seeing my old college roommate Julia and her family for a couple hours, we were debating between the 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar for Jucy Lucy's.  They were both featured on Food Wars in 2010, and claim to have invented the burger.  Matt's was the winner, so we decided to try it.  For those that don't know what a Ju(i)cy Lucy is, it is a stuffed cheeseburger.  I believe Matt's had originally spelled 'Juicy' wrong on their menu, and stuck with it and still spells it 'Jucy'.  It is very much a dive bar on Cedar Ave.  You hang around until you see an open table then grab it before someone else beats you to it.  When we were there, there was one bartender and one server taking care of the whole place.  Somehow, they were able to make it work. We felt much more welcome here than we did at The Weinery!  The burgers and fries were awesome!  I definitely recommend making a trip there, and I will for sure go back- at least after I give 5-8 Club a try next time!
Mmmm....I already want to go back.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sloppy Joes From Scratch

After watching one episode of 'Throwdown with Bobby Flay', I got inspired to make homemade Sloppy Joes.  This is the only recipe I have used to do so because it's addicting.  The recipe is kind of involved, but totally worth it in the end!

2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
1 Large Diced Onion
1 Small Red Pepper- Trimmed, Seeded, and Diced
4 Large Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp Dried Marjoram
2 lbs Ground Beef
3- 8 oz cans Tomato Sauce
3 Tbs Sugar
3 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs Yellow Mustard
Salt and Pepper

In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium low heat, add onions, saute for 5 minutes.  Add peppers and cook for 5 minutes more.  Stir in garlic and marjoram, continue to cook for 2 minutes more.  Transfer vegetables to a bowl with slotted spoon and set aside.  Add meat to pan and increase heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes.  Discard excess fat.  Combine meat and vegetables with tomato sauce, sugar, worcestshire, vinegar, and mustard.  Bring mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  They taste best on soft hamburger buns! 

Homemade Ice Cream- Yes, please!

I follow ‘Cooking with all things Trader Joes’ on Facebook and came across this great and easy recipe for instant ice cream.  I buy their angel food cake to go along with it, and its the perfect dessert!

12 oz Bag of Frozen Fruit (I like Mixed Berry)
2/3 cup Half & Half (I use Fat Free)
1/4 cup Sugar
Combine the sugar and half & half until the sugar dissolves.  Do not thaw the fruit.  Add frozen fruit to food processor and chop it up roughly.  Add cream to the fruit and process until smooth.  Serve right away or freeze.

And Now the Ball is Rolling...

I have had this idea stirring in me for quite some time now.  I take pictures of everything I eat, regardless if I made it myself or not.  I figured, why not start a blog and share?  So forgive me for playing catch up.