Thursday, March 26, 2009

Joy the Baker

Joy the Baker has been around for awhile, but it wasn't until recently that I clicked over to the site. I haven't made any of her recipes, but I think I booked marked about 20 of them within a few minutes.

Just a few to whet your whistle:

Photo from Joy the Baker.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Try me, Please?

Sooooo, this is going to sound weird. I'm working on something at work where we are tying in the benefit of something to a recipe. Sort of like this:

Benefit = recipe for success and recipe = characteristic of the benefit

The recipes have to be fairly simple and not have 800 years worth of instructions. I'm trying to do a variety of recipes and am already including bread/breakfast (strawberry bread=antioxidants), meat (slow cooker chili chicken tacos=easy to assemble, no fuss) and cookies (monster cookies=lots of disparate ingredients come together all yummy). I found all of these other recipes online and need to try them out before publicly giving them two thumbs up and distributing them into the world.

I'll be trying some of them, but I'd love it if any of you were piqued enough to make them yourselves. If you do try them within the next two weeks, give me a shout and let me know if they are any good. Gracias!

Apple, Pear and Walnut Salad

2 T red wine vinegar
2 1/2 T orange juice
1 orange, zested
1/2 C raisins or craisins
4 apples, preferably use 2 to 3 different kinds
2 pears, preferably red and green
2/3 C walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, orange juice, zest, and raisins. Core and cube apples and pears. Add fruit and walnuts to a bowl and drizzle with oil. Toss well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Special Fried Rice with Carrots

2 3/4 C water
1 1/2 C white rice
3 T vegetable or wok oil, 3 turns of the pan
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, minced or grated
1/2 C shredded carrots, available in pouches in produce section, a couple of handfuls
1 small red bell pepper, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
1/2 C frozen peas
1/3 C Tamari, dark aged soy sauce

Bring water to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat, cover and cook over medium low heat until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Spread rice out on a cookie sheet to quick cool it.

Heat a wok, wok shaped skillet or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add oil to the pan. Add egg to hot oil and break into small bits as it scrambles. When eggs are scrambled, add garlic and ginger to the pan. Add carrots, pepper, scallions to the pan and quick stir-fry veggies 2 minutes.

Add rice to the pan and combine with veggies. Fry rice with veggies 2 or 3 minutes. Add peas and soy sauce to the rice and stir fry 1 minute more, then serve.

Broccoli and Bow Ties

Kosher salt
8 C broccoli florets (4 heads)
1/2 lb farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
1 t minced garlic
1 lemon, zested
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 t lemon juice
1/4 C toasted pine nuts
Freshly grated Parmesan, optional

Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove the broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon or sieve. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In the same water, cook the bow-tie pasta according to the package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain well and add to the broccoli.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the butter and oil and cook the garlic and lemon zest over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Off the heat, add 2 t salt, the pepper, and lemon juice and pour this over the broccoli and pasta. Toss well. Season to taste, sprinkle with the pine nuts and cheese, if using, and serve.

To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry saute pan over medium-low heat and cook, tossing often, for about 5 minutes, until light brown

Soft Dough Pretzels

1 1/2 c. water
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2-2 1/2 c. flour
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. water
Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat water to 120 degrees. In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour and yeast, sugar, salt and warmed water. Mix for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups flour and continue kneading for 3 minutes. If dough is sticky, knead in enough of remaining 1/2 cup flour to form a soft dough.

Shape into a ball. On a floured surface, cut into 16 pieces and roll with hands into approximately 12 inch ropes. Shape as pretzels and put on foil covered cookie sheets. Beat egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water until well blended. Coat dough with egg mixture and sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire racks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whoopie Pies!

Ok, I know these aren't Irish in sticking with the theme, but just saw this on Yahoo and how good do these sound?! Like a trip down memory lane too... :)

Whoopie Pies

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup buttermilk

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt.

1. For the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three parts, alternating with buttermilk, and combining well after each addition.

2. Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop out 12 1/4-cup mounds of batter and place about 6 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.

3. For the buttercream filling: For best results, follow directions carefully, paying attention to required temperatures. Fill bottom half of a double boiler (or a medium saucepan) with an inch or two of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. In top half of double boiler (or a metal bowl), combine egg whites and sugar. Place over simmering water and whisk just until sugar is dissolved and temperature reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

4. Using a whisk attachment on a heavy-duty mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar on high until they double in volume and become thick and shiny. Continue to whisk until cool. Reduce speed to medium and begin to add butter about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. Add vanilla and salt. If mixture looks curdled, continue to whisk until it is smooth. Increase speed to high and whisk for 1 more minute. Use immediately or place in an airtight container and chill for up to 3 days, whisking buttercream again before using.

5. For assembly: Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, place 1/4 cup buttercream on flat side of each of 6 cakes, spreading it to edges. Top filled half with another cake to sandwich the buttercream. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.
Yield: 6 pies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Grocery staples

Do you ladies find that once you go to the grocery store, your next grocery list is started to almost immediately? Now that I shop for two, and try to eat at home for any meals I'm not at work, I now know our basics that I need every time:

Lettuce (spring mix)
Green onions
Broccoli/asparagus/green beans (some type of vegetable)
Bread (sandwich or for dinner)
Cheese (colby-jack)
Things we use often, so tend I to buy in bulk:
Angel hair pasta
Coffee and creamer
Chicken stock
Chicken breast, ground turkey and pork tenderloins
Do you ladies have staples you always need? Photo from here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Carbomb Cupcakes

We are having a St. Patrick's Day potluck at work, hence Jennifer's Reuben dip and these car bomb cupcakes. I made them last night and this morning and while I haven't eaten one all put together, I have tasted all the parts and they are good. I'll post a picture later.

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting
3 to 4 cups confections sugar (I used about 2 1/2 cups when all was said and done).
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces)
unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined. The chips melted easily since they are so small.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes.

Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's the Irish Soda Bread recipe that I promised. I will be making some myself this afternoon.

Irish Soda Bread

4 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups golden raisins

Mix all ingredients together. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

I am sure there is supposed to be some order to mixing ingredients but Joe got the recipe from his family over the phone years ago so all I can say is that I've made it before and it's good. I usually make it in a bundt pan. We also make it with a powder sugar glaze much like this one. The glaze must be dyed green according to Joe....

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reuben Dip

I'm making this dip for a little work pot luck tomorrow. I'm not quite sure how reubens are connected to St. Patrick's Day (they seem German to me), but I won't let that stop me!

1 can sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
6 oz. shredded swiss cheese
6 oz. cubed or shredded corned beef
8 oz. block of cream cheese
2 Tablespoons Thousand Island dressing

Drain and rinse sauerkraut. In a crockpot, mix sauerkraut with swiss cheese and cream cheese. Add corned beef and Thousand Island. Cover and heat on low, stirring occasionally. Serve with crackers or cocktail rye bread.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Asparagus Lasagna Review

Though we are into a new month, I finally got around to making this asparagus lasagna. I made quite a few tweaks, which are noted. We had it with grilled salmon and salad, and it was really tasty. The lemon zest really makes this a light and fresh dish, perfect for spring.Asparagus Lasagna
4 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed (I used two bunches)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, heated
1/2 cup water, heated
7 ounces mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet (I used low fat ricotta)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, or to taste
6 (7 by 6 1/4-inch) sheets instant (no-boil) lasagna (next time I'll use cooked noodles. I've given no boil a fair shot and I just don't like them).
1 2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup heavy cream (I omitted, you'll see why later)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Cut the tips off each asparagus spear and reserve them. Cut the stalks of asparagus into 1/2-inch lengths.
In each of 2 large shallow baking pans toss the asparagus stalks with half the oil, and salt to taste coating them well, and roast them, shaking the pans every few minutes, until they are crisp-tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Set them aside. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F. (since I only used 2 bunches of asparagus, I used one pan to cook asparagus. I then used that same pan to bake the lasagna)
In a saucepan melt the butter, add the flour, and cook the roux over moderately low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broth and the water in a stream, whisking, simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, and whisk in the cheese, zest, and salt, to taste, whisking until the sauce is smooth.
Arrange 1 sheet of pasta in each of buttered 9 by 13-inch baking dishes, (I only used one dish) and spread each sheet with 1/4 of the sauce. Top the sauce in each dish with 1/4 of the reserved roasted asparagus, and sprinkle the asparagus with 1/3 cup of the Parmesan. Continue to layer the pasta, sauce, asparagus, and Parmesan in the same manner, ending with a sheet of pasta.
In a bowl beat the cream with a pinch of salt until it holds soft peaks. Arrange the reserved asparagus tips on the pasta, spoon the cream over the pasta and the asparagus tips, spreading it with the back of a spoon, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan on top. (Since I reduced the amount of asparagus and made this in one pan, I skipped the cream and just used the remaining top to cover the lasagna)
Bake the lasagna in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling, and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes Inactive time: 10 minutes. Photo from here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Corned Beef Recipe?

I think I made Corned Beef last year but I have no idea what recipe I used. Does anyone have a good one? I'm not even sure why I bought it except that I was in the Costco "throw it in the cart because it must be a good deal" Daze.

I have a good Irish Soda Bread recipe that I will try to post later.

A March Favorite - Dubliner Cheese

It seems that every March we pick up some Dubliner Cheese from Costco. It's great with grapes, apples, pears, etc. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March is Irish Inspired Foods

March is Irish inspired foods, which I think could offer a lot of ideas, perhaps more than potatoes as this shirt suggests!

According to Wikipedia, these are some traditional Irish foods.List of traditional food and drink:
Bangers and mash
Black and Tan
Carrageen moss
Irish breakfast
Irish coffee
Irish cream
Irish mist
Irish stew
Skirts and kidneys
Soda bread
Ulster fry
Whiskey (particularly pure pot still whiskey)

Some others include potato bread, Irish cheeses, prawns and what else? Do you ladies know of any others?

Photo from here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cooking Light Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Last week I celebrated a big birthday and even though this cake was made one day late by Joe, (thank you, Blizzard of '09) it was fabulous. Amanada and Anthony arrived just in time on Friday to enjoy the cake with us which only made it better!

Recipe found here.