Monday, January 30, 2012

109. Carol's Yummy Rustic White Bread



All I can say is this is the best, and I mean, THE BEST bread, that I have made in a little over an hour.  I found this recipe when a fellow blogger shared this with all of us.  All I can say is THANK YOU!

In the last few weeks I have made this loaf about 7 times.  No lie, it turns out just like this picture …every…time!  AMAZING!

You can find the original recipe on Carol's site.  Pampered Chef Consultant-Carol's Corner is where you can find a ton of other amazing recipes that Carol is sharing…and there are a lot!

I have to admit that I love my stoneware.  I have a lot.  Not all of it is Pampered Chef.  I have picked up several pieces at local thrift stores that come from all over the US.  My loaf is round because I have a huge round stoneware bowl and a tart stoneware plate that works really well together.  I use it similar to how Carol has used her oval stoneware set.

I will tell you a secret…I also used this recipe in two loave pans and covered the top with my stoneware cookie sheet…worked, again, like a dream.

The key is keeping the dough surrounded by the stoneware.  It creates a lot of heat and gets the crust nice and crispy with out being thick and the center is tender and perfect for fondues, sandwiches, dips and toasted slices for spreads.

You will find that I have not changed Carols' ingredients only the process of making the bread.  This is what worked for me and I like to make things simple.

Recipe:  Carol's Rustic White Bread (My changes will be in red)

Ingredients:

5-6 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 or 2 cups) (I have never had to use more than 4 1/2 cups, this may change depending on where you live: humidity and such)

2 tablespoons dry yeast (regular, NOT rapid rise, yeast)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups hot water (120° to 130°) Note: water temperature is critcial to proper yeast activation (If your measuring cup is cold, rinse it out a few times with warm water.  This affects the temperature of your water if it uses all of its heat to warm the cup…your yeast may not proof right.)

Directions:  (I have modified these from the original because I used my KitchenAid)

Grease the Deep Covered Baker or any other stoneware cookery item you are using.

Combine 4 cups of the flour and salt in your Kitchenaid bowl.  In a separate 2 cup measuring cup add the sugar and the yeast.  Let proof for 5 minutes.  Add to the flour and turn your kitchenaid to a slow speed, otherwise the flour bounces out all over your counter.

Once the dough is formed, you can increase the speed to medium and continue kneading for 7 minutes.

Turn the Kitchenaid off and cover with a dish cloth for 15 minutes. 

Remove dough from bowl and stretch the dough and then ball up and place directly into your stoneware.

Put the lid on the baker and place in a COLD oven. Turn oven to 400° and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from overn, uncover, gasp in amazement, remove loaf from baker to cool on a rack.

Carol's Tip: to slice bread set it on its side and cut wth a serrated bread knife. By cutting from the side you avoid crushing the flaky top crust.

Note: this recipe makes a VERY LARGE loaf (over 5 inches tall x 7 inches wide x 10 inches long). The Deep Covered Baker has a 3.1 QT capacity. If you use an alternate to the Deep Covered Baker please makes sure it's large enough for the recipe!

  

Friday, January 27, 2012

108. Brie, Pears and Biscuits



Pinterest has inspired me to do more things than I could have ever imagined.  At first I did not really understand what it was all about.  I slowly learned from friends that to be a pinner was pretty cool, addictive and very creative.  I just could not image spending any more time on the computer and yet here I am to tell you that I love it.  I really do.

It has filled a cup of creativity within me that I thought could never be full.  I craved the constant and ever changing photo's that are presented on Pinterest.  My brain is fast, thinks faster than I can speak and loves anything new.  It has given me a place to go and "chill".  I can spend five minutes and go to my boards and instantly feel happy.  It's a place that I only post the things that I love.  

It is my happy place.  I do have to be disciplined or I could easily spend a whole day looking at pictures, learning, getting new ideas and simply, smiling.  Yes, it makes me smile.  


That is how I learned about this beautiful recipe.  It is originally pinned from Sommer of A Spicey Perspective.  I did fall in love, again, with something on Pinterest.  LOL

The presentation was very beautiful and I don't think I had ever made something so lovely.  

I did something a little bit different then the original recipe because I wanted to try something different.  That morning I had made biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  I had extra biscuits.  I opened the fridge and saw the brie (that I bought last week) and opened the drawer to find one very bruised pear.  In fact I thought maybe it was beyond it's shelf life.  

I was excited to see the pear was not damaged on the inside.  I could still use it.  I knew that I was not going to make a full pie plate of this gorgeous dessert ( I think it's a dessert..LOL)  I have these little tart glass dishes and decided that I would experiment with two, one for me and one for my hubby.  I really did not have much to lose if they bombed.  The pear was on its last leg, I used 2 small biscuits and I had bought the cheese just for this…so I knew what I was going to be wasting if it did not work out.




AND…

…they turned out great!

We each ate our individual rose pear and brie biscuit "tarts" and loved every last crumb…really…every last one!

Recipe:  Pear and Brie Biscuit Tarts
Inspired by : A Spicy Perspective

1 pear, cut in half, cored and cut very thinly.  This is a green pear.  The skin turns a dark color after baked.
1 small biscuit..use your favorite recipe
Brie..You want enough to cover the top of the biscuits

Preheat oven to 400.

Prepare your pears by halving, coring and slicing them very thinly.

Crumble a biscuit in the bottom of each tart dish.  Trim the Brie of the white rind and cut into slices.  Top the biscuit with Brie.  Using the larger slices of pear, layer them starting at the outer edges.  Overlap the slices as you work your way to the center.  The center is tricky.  The pear slices need to be thin and small.  TIP:  Put the pieces you want to use in the center.  AFTER they are cooked, mold the center pieces to look like the center of a flower.  It is much easier…trust me, I said a few choice words trying to get them to work the first time around…LOL

Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  The cheese is what holds the biscuit together so that when you dish them to their own pretty dish, they don't fall apart.

You can easily serve this with any type of dessert sauce.  I did not because it did not cross my mind…next time.

NOTE:  As with any recipe, you always want to use the best ingredients.  Brie is one of those cheese's that you want to buy the best you can afford.  The taste and texture will be your reward.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

107. Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas



On New Year's Day I made my family their first batch of Hoppin' Johns.  Black eyed peas at their best.  I grew up eating black-eyed peas.  My grandfather was from the South and it was a staple, along with chicken fried steak and fried okra.  Two things that I still love to this day but don't eat much of.

I followed a recipe the first time I made the dish.  My kids did not find the flavor too appetizing.  This was okay because it meant more for Cory and I.  We loved it!  It made such a simple snack and quick lunch.  It reheated like a dream in the microwave.  The best part about this dish is that I was able to make it in the crock pot…SCORE one for the easy team.

I found myself craving this again last week and decided to make our own from memory and from what I thought was missing the first time around.  It came together and we have enjoyed our second batch for this new year.  Does this mean we get double the luck?  LOL

I don't remember how our black-eyed peas were prepared as a kid, I just know I ate them.  I talked to my Mom, who HATES black-eyed peas.  I couldn't imagine someone feeling this way about a cute little bean. I then found out that the only way she had eaten them, and apparently me too, was straight from a can.  A CAN…with all of the slime, she said.  No wonder she did not like black-eyed peas.  She will be visiting me this summer and I will make her a batch of this to see if her opinion will change.  In this case, fresh is best people.  Don't settle for a can of black-eyed peas.  They take no time to cook, similar to a split pea.

The fun part of this recipe is the sausage.  You can use any type of sausage that you like and it will enhance your peas to that flavor.  I like to buy my sausage at Whole Foods in the meat department.  They have a huge selection.  I just remove the sausage from the casing before I fry it up.

Enjoy this recipe, I know I will be again soon.

Recipe:  Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas

3 large sausages, casing removed
4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
1/2 cup of red onion, chopped
2 tsp. of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of celery, diced
1/2 cup of bell pepper, diced
1 package of black eyed peas or 2 cups
4-6 cubes of chicken bouillon
6 cups of water
3/4 tsp. cumin
salt to taste, its best to do this after it has cooked

Saute the onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper for 5 minutes.  Cook the sausage and bacon.  Add all of the ingredients to the crock pot.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  Most of the juice will be gone, you may have a cup left.  Serve immediately.

Monday, January 23, 2012

106. Chicken Tikka Masala



Chicken Tikka Masala is one of our families favorite Indian dishes.  We also love Butter Chicken and a whole slew of others, that unless there is a picture in front of me, I haven't the slightest  clue to what I am ordering or naming.  It's kind of like my post earlier this month in regards to the greek food we eat…a lot of ingredient naming and flavor describing going on.

I usually buy a pre-made mix of spices.  I have found through the years that there are a few that we really like and a few we don't.  I absolutely don't like the pre-made sauces in the jars.  They don't taste authentic to me, that is only my opinion though and maybe you have had better luck than me.  If you have a favorite please do share…I am all ears.  I was a bit nervous about making this from scratch but decided to give it a whirl.

I found this recipe on the Food & Wine site.  The original can be found here. As with most of the recipes I find, I made a few changes.  This comes with the fact that I don't always have the ingredients on hand.  With this recipe I did not have any plain yogurt or cardamon.  I was able to find suitable substitutes that worked like a charm.

I am already preparing when I will make this yummy dish again.  I doubled the recipe and it lasted less than 24 hours in my house.  The flavor was wonderful.  


I have a bit of advice that I will share with you.  This recipe "develops" it's flavors.  It cannot be rushed.  The meat must marinate overnight or for a length of time that is equivalent.  You are using tomatoes that can make any dish taste acidic.  This needs to be slowly enhanced.  I used a combination of salt and honey to bring the flavor to what I would consider the perfect flavor for my taste buds.  The honey was my addition to the recipe and it was the only thing I could think of that would add that bit of sweetness that was needed without overpowering the flavors of the other spices.  I did several "taste and season" trips to the pot over the course of an hour or two.

Final comment…try it!  You will love it if you like Indian food.  I served ours with rice and naan bread.  

Recipe:  Chicken Tikka Masala (my changes will be in red)

MASALA MARINADE

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt--I used sour cream, diluted with 1 T of water and it worked great
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom -I used equal amounts of nutmeg and cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper
CHICKEN

2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed-I used skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds-I used almond meal
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved-I used a 28oz can of tomatoes
Pinch of sugar-I used about 2 T. of honey, not added at once though.
1 cup heavy cream


In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt (sourcream), garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom (nutmeg and cinnamon mix), cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.


I precut the chicken into littler pieces so the baking of the chicken would go faster.  Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces or smaller.  I like more of a bite size piece.


(I skipped this step and used my almond meal) Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve. This is the point in which I would taste and season the tikka masala. Go slowly and give the seasonings a chance to blend and marry together.

MAKE AHEAD The Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving. NOTES Variation The marinade and sauce here are also delicious with shrimp, lamb and vegetables. SERVE WITH Steamed basmati rice, rice pilaf or warm nan.




Friday, January 20, 2012

105. Pancakes from Scratch


My family loves pancakes.  We are constantly trying new recipes to find the perfect one and have decided that there are just too many perfect pancake recipes…LOL


This is a recipe I found years ago.  We love it.  It's still written on the envelope that I copied it on to.  It is a bit longer to make pancakes from scratch, but to my family, it's worth it.  They don't like the boxed mixes anymore than I do buying something with too many ingredients.  

This post is short and sweet just like a short stack of these lovely pancakes.  Enjoy!

Recipe:  Pancakes

1.5 cups of flour (sifted twice)
3 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/4 cups of milk
3 T. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 egg whites


Sift dry ingredients together. Beat egg whites until peaks form.  Mix wet ingredients, minus the egg whites.  Combine dry/wet ingredients together and then gently fold in egg whites.  The batter will be fluffy.  

Using a hot griddle or pan, cover in butter and start cooking your pancakes.  Serve immediately.





Thursday, January 19, 2012

104. Homemade Pasta and Ravioli's




I have wanted a pasta machine for years…a long time…forever!  I finally got one for Christmas and it sat in its box for almost a month.  I have been waiting for the right time to "break it in".  I was so busy during the holidays with the blog that I found I was a little bit burned out that first week of January.
I find that I need time off from the blog on occasion.   It gives me a chance to reload, recharge and review what I have done, want to do and will ,without question, attempt over the next few months.

My new toy.

Pasta, that is a glorious word in our home!  We love it almost as much as we like rice.  I have a fantastic recipe for gluten free pasta that I use all the time.  It's easy because there is no kneading..NONE.  The one draw back that I find with it, is,  the recipe uses all starches.  I find these to have very little nutritional value and cringe some times if we eat it too much.  I have slowly been adding gluten back into my diet.  VERY SLOWLY.   If I make something from scratch, I have little to no problems, but if I eat some thing that is store bought or in a box it messes with my system.  I can't figure it out.  So I avoid it and feel much better.

My family would eat pasta daily if I was diligent in producing the dough every day.  I would probably have really nice biceps and nothing "swinging" (If, your over 40 you might know what I am referring too…LOLOL)  

Isabella could not wait to get her hands on the pasta roller.  I had to help her change the widths but other than that she did just fin.


Sunday, I was feeling refreshed and got the goods out of their boxes.  It was red, my favorite color.  Shiny, so beautiful.  I immediately told my oldest daughter that, down the road, she will probably inherit the pasta roller and it could be in our family for years.  It made me smile.  I was determined to use it often so that I could instill in the pasta roller a sense of use, love and family tradition.  

Isabella made her own spaghetti…she was so happy.  A trick I learned when using the small spaghetti maker, is let the sheet of pasta dry for a few minutes.  The strands of spaghetti will be perfect.

I started the dough like all pasta makers do…flour with a well in the middle filled with egg.  I can't tell you how I felt to watch the transformation that the dough goes through as it transorms from a stiff, hard to handle mix to this smooth and silky bundle of yumminess.  Just when you think you can't knead for another minute…it changes right before your eyes.  You become one, you don't want to stop, you smile.  SUCCESS!


The recipe for the dough is just a standard flour/egg mixture that I have used in the past.  I got it from a friend.  The ravioli filling is made up of what I have on hand.  It's never the same.  Tonight I had spinach and zucchini, always a wonderful combination in my opinion.  
I can't wait to get another batch of pasta whipped up so that I can experiment with other types of noodles, sheet pasta and filled shapes.  Oh, the options are limitless.

Recipe: Pasta (filling ingredients listed below)

3 cups of flour
4 large eggs
1 tsp salt
3 T. water (possibly more depending on dough)

Mix the salt and flour together and dump on your table.  Make a well in center of the flour and add your eggs and 3T. water.  With a fork, start mixing the eggs into the flour.  I also like to have a metal pastry scrapper so that with one hand I am mixing and the other one I am keeping my flour from going all over the place.  Work the dough into a ball.

I will be honest and tell you I thought this was never going to work.  The dough is stiff and brittle.  I keep a bowl of water nearby.  As I start to knead the dough and if it feels too dry I wet my hands and go back to kneading.  I might do this 3 or 4 times.  The dough should not be dry.

Kneading time will be about 10 minutes.  Around 8 minutes into the kneading you will notice the dough  start to become softer and it will get more and more so as you get to the 10 minute mark.

After you have kneaded you dough, cut the ball into 4 sections.  I wrap each section in saran wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.  Each wrapped section will make two sheets for the ravioli tray.



You will need to follow the directions for your specific pasta machine.  I do believe they are all pretty much the same but just to be sure, read your manual.

With the ravioli, you will need to take one of the four wrapped doughs and cut in half.  Set your machine to 0, the widest and roll your dough through 2 or 3 times.  Each time it comes out, fold it into thirds and re-roll.

At this point you can start changing the number to make the pasta roller thinner and thinner.  For the ravioli, I stopped at 7. (see pictures below)  Use your hand to guide the pasta into the machine and use your hands to help it stretch out.  The dough is very durable.  If it starts to stick in the machine or tear, then you may need to add a dusting of flour.





Recipe: Ravioli Filling

1/2 cup of Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup of diced green onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded
1 egg
1/3 cup of shredded zucchini (optional)
1 cup of spinach, cut coarsely (optional)
 1/4 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp of salt
10 leaves of fresh Oregano or 1/2 tsp. or dried oregano (you can use any combination of your favorite spices)

Mix the filling ingredients together and use the required amount to fill your particular ravioli tray.  Mine happens to be a square tray with smaller raviolis.  The amount used will change with each type of tray.




I learned that with my tray, it helped to slightly dust the inside with flour.  The ravioli's pulled out much easier.  In a large pot you will want to bring 8-10 cups of water to a boil.  Add the ravioli's and cook for 4-6 minutes.

Serve immediately with your favorite sauce.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

103. Rack of Lamb



 I have a list of things that I have never made because, in my mind, they have an aurora around them that denotes "chef's only"…Rack of Lamb is on this list.  I have made leg of lamb without hesitation and it always turns out well.  So what was the hang up for me with a rack?

I honestly don't know other than I think that they look so dainty and delicate.  I did not want to ruin them in the cooking process and have a failure on my resume.  I am laughing out loud at that thought.  I have  a long list of things that have been made through the years that have not turned out "to my standard".

This year is about "action" for me.  I want to be more of a doer than I have been in the past.  In order to accomplish this goal I will be forced to tackle and try new things.  Mind over matter.  My mind tells me sometimes that I can't, but no matter what, I need to push through the doubt, fear and task.  Go for the gold!



I purchased this lamb on a whim and took it home.  We had a few stare downs as I pondered what I was going to do with it.  I studied a few pages, cookbooks and such to find the best method for cooking this dainty rack.

It seemed much easier than I thought it would.  The main concern is over cooking it.  Lamb should be enjoyed medium rare or medium.  I knew this would be a concern for my son.  He does not like rare meat of any kind.

It turned out to not be a problem because once the lamb was done and I was able to cut the rack into baby chops, I found the outer chops to be medium and the center was rare….the best of both worlds.

I will definitely make this again.  The texture is so buttery that the meat actually melts in your mouth.  I like to have lamb with a mint jelly.  Last night I did not have any around and decided to make a reduction with what I had left over from searing the meat…it was perfect (another first for me).


ACTION.  I am doing instead of talking about it.

 SIMPLE.  Maybe and maybe not.  LOL

RESOLUTION:  Actions speak louder than words.  I must become more in tune with my ability to do and not just talk about the things I want to learn.  I must take the first step to success, which I have learned is sometimes the hardest…baby steps are still steps.  In the kitchen I still have a few things to tackle on my "bucket list".  You're never to old to learn and I am hoping this year it will be filled with new skills, recipes and action.

Recipe:  Rack of Lamb

7-9 rib rack of Lamb
2 T. Olive Oil
1/4 cup of chopped green onion
1 T. minced garlic
salt
pepper
1 cup of bread crumbs (I used crumbs with Italian flavorings)

Reduction:

2 cups red wine (You may also use a combination of brandy and wine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425

I preheated a separate cast iron skillet while I was searing the lamb on the stovetop.

In a cast iron pan, I added the olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Once the oil was hot enough, I seared the lamb on both sides for 4 minutes.


I put the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and rolled the rack in the crumbs to make sure that all sides were covered with a thick layer of the breadcrumbs.

I transfered the lamb to the second skillet that was preheating in the oven.  I laid the lamb with the ribs down into the pan.  I inserted a meat thermometer.

I set the timer for 15 minutes.  A rack of lamb can cook very fast and it will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven.

I removed the lamb when the temperature read 125, some people like it much rarer than this and will remove the lamb at 115.  This allowed for the outer edges to be medium and the center to be rare. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then sliced them into individual cuts.  If the meat on the very center is too rare still, you can sear them quickly in the cast iron pan that you used to cook them in.  You don't want to over cook the meat so take your time.

While the lamb was cooking, I added the wine and balsamic vinegar to the cast iron pan on the stove top.  I set the temperature to medium high and stirred constantly until the ingredients were a rich, dark color.  This provided me with about 2/3 of a cup of reduced liquid.   I drizzled this on the plate that the lamb was served on and a bit on top.  It was just enough to add some flavor but not take away the lamb flavor.  I also added the rest to a small bowl and served on the table in case more was wanted by my family.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

102. Chilean Sea Bass



It's not a secret that my family loves seafood.  We try to add this to our meals once or twice a week.  I tend to be a creature of habit and stick with what I know:  halibut, crab, shrimp and salmon.  These four seafood items are fairly easy to prepare: butter and sauté.  While mixing up the seasoning a bit I can create different flavors and this keeps my little family happy at dinner time.

Yesterday was like any other shopping day.  I had my list of ideas for meals, new the store I was going to be shopping at and had my budget in mind.  I spend roughly about $200.00 dollars a week on food…give or take a special occasion or meal.  I don't know if this is a lot or a little.  I just feed my family.  I would be curious to learn what other familys spend on food each month to see where my budget fits into the median of our society.

I tend to shop at Whole foods and know the store pretty well.  Even at whole foods I try to shop the perimeter of the store and not get caught up in the aisles.  Even though their stuff tends to be healthier it is also more expensive and over priced.  I fill my cart at least half way with fruit and veggies, dairy and cheese is next and then I finish the shopping with meat and bread, the last two being small in comparison to the rest of the shopping.


I love the fish section at Whole Foods and find myself drawn to all of the different types of filets spread across the ice.  My kids would love for me to buy a whole snapper one day and bring it home , head and all.

While at the fish counter I saw my beloved halibut and right next to it was the Chilean Sea Bass.  I asked a few questions: flavor, texture, flakiness, etc… and decided that this fish would be a great addition to my weekly meal.  

In the past I have bought small portions, maybe a pound, and filled in the rest of the meal with rice and veggies.  My family is always left wanting more.  I decided that I would take a piece twice the size that I normally buy.  I knew that it was marked at 26.00 per pound and I was okay with this price.  
At the register I noticed that my bill was a little bit more than usual, but that's okay,  I paid for it and got home.  While putting the food away, I noticed the price on the sea bass…$53.00…yes, I had sticker shock.  I have never paid that much for any seafood item before (besides crab…that's different…I get 24 crabs for 85.00, not one piece of fish..LOL)  

I laughed and thought, "WOW, this better be the best damn fish I have ever cooked."  

AND…

it was!

My family loved every last flake and said that they had not had a fish that tasted so good.  It was all worth the adventure of trying something new and the expense.  I fed my family sea bass for 53.00 and I know if I had gone to a restaurant it would have been 3X's that.  


Recipe:  Chilean Sea Bass

2 lbs of sea bass, cut into 2 inch filets
1 stick of butter
salt, to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp of paprika
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 red bell pepper sliced thinly

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add everything but the fish to the pan.  Once the butter is hot and the onion and bell pepper have cooked for 3 minutes, add the sea bass filets to the pan.  Make sure your heat is not too high at this point to burn the butter and the bottom of your fish.  Cook each side 7 minutes.  You will know your fish is done when it is firm to the touch and easily flakes apart.

Gently remove the fish to a serving platter.  The juices and veggies left in the pan can be served in a gravy boat as a topping for the fish and rice, if it served with the dish.

Recipe:  Fruit Relish

1 apple, cubed
1 mango, cubed
2 stalks of celery
1/2 cup of cilantro
3 T. Orange Juice

Mix together and serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

100. Yummy Neighbor Treats (5)



It has been a few years since we had the opportunity to hand out neighbor treats.  Last year we were in Dallas, TX at the Marriott.  I made a few things (we had a suite with a full kitchen) to give to the front desk and they were very appreciative of them.

I have also been with family and we set aside one day to make enough goodies for a small army.  It was wonderful for several reasons.  First we got to be together in the kitchen.  Secondly, we shared and learned new recipes.  Thirdly, many hands make light work.  It was just a fun time.

This year we don't know many people but we do have neighbors.  The kids and I talked about what we would like to make and what would be kid friendly to make.  Some recipes I have you practically have to have a science degree to get them to work…LOL  We don't make those every year.


We always enjoy taking them to the door and wishing them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  This year our neighbors returned the favor and we reaped the reward of our labors.  Thank you for the cookies, candy and bread!  They were all so tasty good.

This is a list of what we made, along with links, pictures and recipes.


Recipe: Oreo Balls or Truffles

1 package of Oreos
1 (8oz) package of Cream Cheese
chocolate chips to zigzag or dip

If you have a food processor, add the cookies (cookie and cream) and make them into a fine mixture.

Soften the cream cheese.  Mix the two together and cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop the dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  I do not hand roll my truffles…it's too time consuming.

Melt your chocolate chips using your favorite method and pipe across the oreo truffles in a zig zag motion. You can also dip you truffle in chocolate and decorate with white chocolate.


Peppermint Bark Popcorn  I used the recipe for the for this treat from Our Best Bites and it was submitted by Sara.  The recipe can be found here. Picture below.


Peanut Butter Fudge  I used my own recipe.  I did a post about this last week.  It can be found here.

Recipe: Pecan Balls (see picture above)


2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2 cups of finely ground pecans
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups of flour

Powdered sugar to coat Pecan Balls with after baking.

In a medium sized bowl, cream butter with electric mixer until lemon color.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Add flours and nuts.  Place dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Using a cookie scoop, scoop pecan balls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Immediately after removing the pecan balls from the oven, roll in powdered sugar and place on a cookie rack to cool.

Peanut Butter NanaimoBars  I use this recipe from my blog found here.  It is out of this world, crazy good!








So there it is.  A lot of yummiliciousness in  one spot.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

99. Our Hanukkah Dinner



I have so many thoughts going through my head that I can't seem to write them all down in to complete sentences other than to say…it's a long story.  It's a long story because we don't have a label for what we are or what we celebrate or believe.  Without going into a long explanation of what we believe and don't believe it is easier to say that we choose to see the good in all groups of people, faiths and beliefs.  We don't have a "church" that we participate in or a congregation. Like I said it's a long story….

 What we do have is each other, this life to explore and the desire to learn as much as we can while on this earth.  We are human beings having the best human experience we can while in this form, our bodies. My family and I have always found the Jewish religion and culture fascinating.  We believe that to accept others we must dig a little bit deeper into their world.  Their world includes food, driedels and gold coins.  I know it is much larger than these simple three things, but, to an outsider this is what we associate with the Jewish traditions.  This is why we chose to have a dinner that focused on foods they often partake of during the start of Hanukkah.  While studying and trying to find just the right recipes, I did learn a lot about why the celebration takes place.  I find this fascinating.


I was very excited to prepare this meal.  I find much love and a bond when cooking and preparing something that has been made for years and years.  As cooks we become one. Yes, some are better at making them than others, our flavors may be different and the quantity being made will be different.  But, they are all cooked in oil.  This is the common strand that knits us together and this is what is being remembered while making the latkes.

How many have been made over the years?  Are our thoughts the same while cooking them?  Is there a sense of love for our families while we make them that is the same? It's a type of food that will be passed down from generation to generation and cherished.  For one night, I wanted my family to understand how there Jewish friends celebrated the start of their holiday.

WORK.  This is a good word to describe the day.  I have not cooked that much and for so long in a very long time.  It felt good to have one day that I knew would be filled with nothing but preparing and cooking.  I made things that I had never made before, like jelly donuts.  I attempted something that I had tried once before with not a lot of success, the latke's.  We found a new favorite, Matzoh Ball Soup.  We tried something that we did not like, the green salad with fresh beets.  I made my first Challah loaf of bread and about cried when it turned out perfectly.  EMOTIONS.  This was a day filled with emotion in the kitchen.

Our night ended with the kids learning the game that is played with the driedels and why candy coins are given at this time of year.

I know that this was a lot to tackle and I was so excited to do so.  I understand that next time the dinner will be shared by others so that the burden is not placed on one person.  Next year I hope to have other families over so that we can all participate in this celebration.

I will share with you the recipes that I made and where I found them with links back to those pages and blogs.  I did take some pictures and will share those here so that you can see how my attempts faired.

Matzoh Ball Soup  I used the recipe on the back of the Matzoh meal with great success.  I made my own chicken broth from scratch. (Picture above)

Apple Sauce  I found this recipe on About.com Busy Cooks.  It was shared by Linda Larsen and can be linked here.  This apple sauce was out of this world good and super easy.  I will never buy store bought apple sauce again.  (Picture above on the far right latke)

Potato Latke's  I found this recipe on Epicurious and the recipe was submitted by Gourmet-December 2000.  Recipe can be found here.  I did a lot of searching for the perfect recipe.  You will find the basic flavors and then there are those that get pretty fancy by adding other things to the latke.  This is a basic recipe.  I changed two things.  I cooked the latke's in peanut oil, not olive oil.  I also read that if you add some matzoh meal it will help hold the latke's together.  I did this and it was amazing how much easier this time around was then the last time I tried to make these.



Challah Bread  I found this recipe at allrecipes.com submitted by Joan Callaway.  The recipe was easy to follow.  The loaf turned out better then I had expected.  The only think I would do different next time is make two small braided circles or loaves.  My loaf was huge…it took up the whole pizza stone after it had risen the second time.  I also did a double egg wash and this made the crust a beautiful golden brown.


Jelly Doughnut or Sufganiyot  I found most of the recipes to be the same so I just picked one.  I found this on familyfun.com, no submitter was posted.  Again, the recipe was easy to follow and the donuts turned out great.  Our only problem was we were so full by the end of the night we could barely eat one a piece…LOL  Next year I will  only make half the batch and make them smaller.


I mentioned that I had made a salad with fresh beets.  I have tried them before but we still don't like them.  Sorry Mr. Beet, eating you raw is not our favorite.  We will stick to the marinated versions and enjoy every last one.

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