Saturday, October 31, 2009
My very first cheesecake. I decided to try a pumpkin cheesecake since that's my favorite kind from Cheesecake Factory. Have you ever eaten there? It is the best chain restaurant. Everything is so yummy. Unfortunately they recently added a calorie content menu which I'm not thrilled about, but as long as you don't open it you can enjoy being ignorant and order whatever you like. Since, I can't wait for anything, including tasting my food before I share it, I took a little wedge out just too make sure it's edible. Not too big a party faux pas, right? So far, so good, but the crust is a little soggy. I don't think I wrapped the foil tightly enough and some water got into the pan. Here is the link I used for the recipe. The only thing I changed was I baked the cheesecake in a water bath which I heard keeps it from cracking.
My husband and I are going to a friend's tonight for Halloween and I'm bringing dessert. I decided to tackle a cheesecake (my first one, which I'll share later) and something easy. What could be easier than Rice Krispies Treats? Follow the directions on the box and then decorate. I used some orange and black sprinkles, which my husband thinks looks like pepper, but I think it's festive. Happy Halloween.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I wanted to make something easy the other night and while wondering thru Trader Joes I came across fontina cheese which I love. It melts perfectly and is so gooey. Yum! I sauteed the chicken until cooked thru in EVOO and then baked it in the oven topped with a slice of prosciutto and fontina cheese until the cheese is melted. I served it with a side of roasted potatoes and zucchini. Delicious and oh so easy. Also, fontina cheese goes great with a glass of Pinot Grigio.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Ok, these are the best cookies I have made in really long time. They are crunchy around the edge and chewy in the middle. Perfect combo of chocolate and peanut butter plus some chopped peanuts thrown in for extra texture. I guarantee these will be gone quickly and I've packaged up a few for friends before my hubby and I eat them all. Here is the recipe:
1 1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour
1 C All-Purpose Flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 C room temperature unsalted butter, I usually cheat and soften in the microwave
3/4 granulated sugar
3/4 brown sugar
1 t vanilla, I use the bourbon vanilla extract from Trader Joes
2 C mini peanut butter cups, you can find these at Trader Joes
1 C chopped peanuts
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl
Combine butter, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl
Add eggs to the butter, sugars and vanilla, mix until well combined
Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Then stir in peanut butter cups and peanuts.
I use a small ice cream scoop to drop mounds of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven until golden brown.
My favorite part of the pumpkin carving process...seeds! Last night I gutted a medium sized pumpkin, rinsed all the pulp from the seeds and spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight. This morning I tossed them with a little canola oil, salt and Emeril's Bayou seasoning, popped them in the over for 1 hour at 250 degrees and am now snacking on them while watching football. Yum!
Frittatas are an easy way of making a quick breakfast and using a lot of leftover ingredients you might have from the week. The one that I made for breakfast had deli ham, potatoes, havarti cheese and of course, eggs. I topped this with chopped tomatoes. I've made this with a variety of ingredients before, diced green peppers, the little bit of salsa that's left at the bottom of the jar, shredded roasted chicken, caramelized onions, pesto....the possibilites are endless. All you need are eggs, salt, pepper, and an oven proof skillet. I saute enough ingredients for 2 people in a skillet with a little bit of EVOO until tender, then pour 5 whisked eggs over everything in the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook on the stovetop until the bottom is set, then put the skillet in the oven at 425 degrees and bake until the top is set and golden brown.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Last night was rainy, cold and after a long day I was in the mood for something easy. This meal was too easy...a package of orange chicken from Traders Joes, brown rice, and I topped it with cashews. YUM! It was hot, satisfying and I highly recommend it when you just want to make dinner in a snap and sit in front of the TV for the night. Thankfully, my DVR was fully stocked with shows I was excited to watch. Anyone else sad the the season finale of Flipping Out is coming up?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Last night I decided to make peanut brittle. This was my first time trying to make candy. I had my handy-dandy candy thermometer and a simple recipe from the Joy of Cooking. Something went very wrong. I've posted a photo. The brittle tastes like a toasted marshmallow, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but definitely isn't what I was hoping for. I followed the directions exactly and monitored the temperature carefully. Any ideas on how my brittle got so toasty? I'd like to try again, but don't want to waste any more peanuts.
It's raining here in Southern CA, and I love it. We don't get rain very often so I try to enjoy every minute. I spent my evening with the kitchen window cracked open, listening to the rain while I cooked away. For dinner I made turkey chili, and at the suggestion of a fellow blogger, I used lentils instead of beans. Traders Joes sells pre-cooked lentils in their produce section so I didn't have to wait for the lentils to soften.
Here are the ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey (I browned this with the onion and then added the rest of the ingredients to the pot to simmer)
1 medium yellow onion
1 t each: chili powder, cumin, hot paprika, kosher salt
pepper to taste
approx 1 C beef stock (I normally would have used chicken stock but I had a carton of beef stock already open in my fridge)
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
approx 2 C pre-cooked lentils
1 C tomato juice (ok, so normally I would have used tomato sauce, but I forgot to buy some and had tomato juice in the fridge)
Bring everything to a boil, add more stock if needed and simmer for approx 20 min.
I like to top my chili with sour cream and I serve it with quesadillas on the side.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I was fortunate to take a short trip to Seattle for the first time a couple weekends ago. Such a beautiful city and a nice change from Southern California. I enjoyed TONS of coffee and my new favorite chocolate place (here's a plug for them) http://www.franschocolates.com/
I ate clam chowder at the restaurant Sleepless in Seattle was filmed, visited too many bakeries (my pants are a little tight), sampled trendy cocktails and of course had a Seattle dog at midnight. Basically, I ate my way thru the weekend. Most things were organic, such as the best coffee I've ever had from a little shop where the only barista was completely stoned but lucid enough to make me a macchiato. It was an awesome weekend and I can't wait to visit again.
Monday, October 12, 2009
A friend challenged me to make a napoleon for dessert last weekend and I was excited to try something new. This was my first time working with puff pastry and it was more difficult than I expected. It was really hard to get each layer even and uniform so the dessert would look like the pictures I'd seen. Pastry cream was a cinch and in the end, although my presentaion sufferred, the napoleons were so yummy. Here is the link for the recipe is used http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipes.recipeListing/filter/dianas/recipeID/3084/Recipe.cfm
I'm always trying to come up with a new breakfast. Sometimes the standard eggs, toast, bacon or sausage can become boring. Since I was making napoleons that night for dessert my husband suggested stacking breakfast and there it was...a breakfast napoleon. The bottom layer is chicken sausage, then buttered toast which I used a biscuit cutter to shape in a circle and then eggs, and more buttered toast. I like bbq sauce with my eggs, which is what you see on the side.
Pumpkin bread is one of those truly fall dishes that makes my kitchen smell wonderful. My favorite recipe is uses whole-wheat flour which makes me feel a little less guilty indulging in it for breakfast and an evening snack.
2 1/2 C Whole-wheat flour
1/2 C yellow or white corn meal
2 t baking soda
1 t ginger ( I like to use freshly grated but ground is fine too)
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t salt
2/3 C unsalted butter softened
1 1/2 C sugar
15 oz can pumpkin
4 oz unsweented applesauce
2/3 C water
1 C raisins (optional)
1/2 chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour 9 x 13 dish or use muffin tins.
In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl combine butter and sugar until well blended, as pumpkin eggs and water. Add dry ingredients to wet until just blended. Stir in walnuts and raisins. Depending on what dish you are baking in cooking time ranges from 20-60 minutes. Test with toothpick to be sure.