Monday, February 27, 2012

Poached Egg-Failure!

I should have watched the Alton Brown tutorial before I tried this, not after! I really didn't think it was going to be that difficult. Simmer water, add vinegar, drop in egg, cook, then remove egg. I was so very wrong. It's not simple. It's frustrating, wasteful and a little gross.

Sunny little egg, ready for the pot. Aren't my oven mitts cute? I got them at Anthropology years ago. I've since burned, stained and ripped them but they're still in good shape.

  Into the pot you go........

Egg failure numero uno. Let's try again.

Somewhere in that gross mess is egg failure number two. So, I've watched the tutorial and hopefully have learned from my mistakes. Maybe next weekend I'll try again.

Have you ever poached an egg? How did it turn out?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Such a Pretty Salad

Let's talk salads. I don't really like them. Which has the healthy girl inside me constantly nagging to eat more veggies but I make her be quiet more often then I should. For me, lettuce is like wet paper. It almost makes me want to gag but I'm trying to overcome this revulsion in baby steps. I had a pear that was perfectly ripe, lettuce in the fridge that I keep for my hubby's lunches, feta cheese, and balasmic vinagrette. All the ingredients to make this very pretty salad......

So now you have to ask me, "Danielle, did you eat this very pretty salad?" And I will reply, "Um no, but I made it lovingly and it was too pretty to throw away so I gave it to my husband to eat." He thought it was delicious.

Any advice on how to truly enjoy salads?
Is there any food that has you gagging?

Nigella Lawson's Banana Bread

I've made many versions of banana bread as I'm sure you've seen many versions of banana bread in the blog world. This recipe is my very favorite. It comes from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess which is the first cookbook I ever bought for myself. I remember leaving Barnes and Noble so excited to get home and try her recipes. Like many of you, I'd rather sit up at night and read cookbooks rather than the latest bestselling novel. Although a good romance story can tear me away from the kitchen for a while.

If you don't like raisins you can omit them, but I would try it with them at least once. These are not your traditional dry chewy raisins, but plump, sweet and full of boozy warmth morsels of goodness. Hmmmm...I think I just channeled my inner Nigella with that description.


Banana Bread
by Nigella Lawson
1/2 cup golden raisins
6 tbs. bourbon or dark rum (I used brandy because that's what I had)
1 cup plus 2 tbs. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla extract
9 x 5 loaf pan, buttered and floured, or with paper insert

Put the golden raisins and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat, cover, and leave for an hour if you can, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and get started on the rest. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick should come out cleanish. Leave in the pan on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.
Makes 8-10 slices.

 What was the first cookbook you ever bought? Do you still have it?

Bobby Flay's Vidalia Onion Soup

First off, how cute is Bobby Flay? I'm so excited I won his cookbook Bar Americain from Velva over at Tomatoes on the Vine because now I can look at photos of him while I'm cooking his delicious food.
Thank you Velva.

Is anyone watching this season of Worst Cooks in America? I'm really enjoying it.

I decided to make the same dish Velva made on her blog. It just looked so good and I love onion soup. Bobby Flay's version has become my favorite. I like the use of chicken stock rather than beef. The soup doesn't feel as heavy and rich this way. I didn't make the the pesto this time since my grocery store was out of parsley, imagine that.

Lots and lots of onions which for me means lots and lots of crying. I used my food processor to help me slice them.

 Cook the onions for a long long time.

 Couple missed steps in there but then add cheese. Try not to eat it all while your slicing.

Broil and enjoy. It makes great leftovers. I had it for lunch 4 days in a row and still wasn't tired of it.

Vidalia Onion Soup with Blistered Vermont Cheddar
Serves 8
Recipe from Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds Vidalia onions, halved and thinly sliced 
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 cups chicken stock
8 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 thin slices French baguette, lightly toasted
1 pound aged cheddar cheese, grated

1.  Melt butter with the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 40 minutes.

2.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the brandy and sherry and boil until almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Whisk in the stock and thyme, bring to a simmer, and cook until the soup is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and discard the thyme.

3. Preheat the broiler.

4.  Divide eight 16-ounce ovenproof crocks between 2 baking sheets.  Put a slice of bread in the bottom of each crock.  Fill each crock until three-quarters full.  Place another slice of baguette over each soup and divide the cheese on top.  Carefully slide the crocks under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the broiler and top each with a dollop of parsley pesto.

Parsley Pesto
Makes about 3/4 cup

2 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1.  Combine the parsley, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped with the motor running, slowly add the oil through the feed tube and process until combined.

2.  Add the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and pulse a few times just to incorporate.  Scrape into a bowl.  The pesto will keep for up to 2 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Do you watch any of Bobby Flay's shows? Brunch at Bobby's is my favorite.

Hey It's be a little wimpy

I'm linking up with Amber for Hey It's Ok Tuesday 

Hey It's Ok to be a little Wimpy and.....

to have to close my eyes and turn my head away when I give blood. I'm not a fainter but the needle makes me really nervous.

to not be able to watch horror movies. I still get freaked out when I'm about to turn on the lights by the sliding glass door after seeing Scream and that was years ago.

to not like being in the house alone. You never know who's lurking behind a doorway to jump out and get you.

to shriek like the child and run from a bee. I may be bigger but those freaking stingers hurt.

to have given up hiking because I saw a snake last time. eeeekkkk!

to avoid going to the dentist as long as possible. I'm thinking this time one of my teeth will have to be close to falling out before you get me there again.

So, what are you wimpy about?

Show them you love them with Cookies

I'm a little late on posting this for Valentine's Day but really these are so cute you don't need to wait until then to share them. I'm thinking of making them for St.Patricks Day with green sprinkles and shamrock chocolates.

The chocolates did this weird bubbly thing while baking and made them look almost like crunch bar hearts. the texture and taste didn't change but next time I'll add the chocolates about 5 minutes into baking them and see if that helps. I think it was too much heat that did it.

Wrapped in treat bags and ready to share.

I prefer my cookies without shortening so this recipe is from Land O' Lakes.

Do you make special treats for the holidays? Any good ideas for St.Patricks Day?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Big Fat Greek Wedding- Mocha Bundt Cake

I love romantic comedies, but then again what girl doesn't? So how is it possible that I had never seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding up until a couple weeks ago? Food 'n Flix assigned it for February so I set it up to record on my DVR and on a lazy Saturday spent some time truly enjoying this great movie. I've since watched it again. My favorite scene is Toula's mother trying to pronounce and understand what a bundt cake is. Hilarious and even funnier when she sticks a flower in the middle. I resisted the urge to do that with my cake but now that I think about it, it would have been another good laugh.
If you'd like to participate, there's still time, check out Kahakai Kitchen for more details.

 I'm so glad the movie inspired me to bake this cake. It's so delicious. The recipe includes frosting but it  doesn't need it. A little sprinkle of powdered sugar makes it just sweet enough.

Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
What is your favorite scene?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Brie, Figs and Crackers...So Yummy

I won some coupons to try Alouette Cheese from Cinnamon Girl Recipes back in November. And it's taken me this long to use one of them, oooops. I'm so glad I finally remembered to take my coupon to the store, remove it from the pouch in my purse and purchase free cheese. Of course, then I had to buy fig preserves and crackers to go with it which weren't free but that's ok, it was worth it.

I tried Alouette Brie Cheese. I love brie, but I don't love the rind, so being able to purchase it without the rind was a big plus for me.

The fig preserves are from France. I was feeling in the mood to be a little fancy and the extra couple dollars were worth it since the cheese was FREE....I get way to excited about not having to pay for something. Thanks Reeni.

Now doesn't that look just delicious?

What is your favorite cheese? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hey It's OK Tuesday (Valentine's Day Edition)

I'm linking up with Amber for Hey It's OK Tuesday

Hey, It's OK......

To be super excited it's Valentine's Day. Yes, I know it's over commercialized and a sappy holiday, but I love it anyway.

To not like conversation hearts. Cute but tastes too much like chalk to me.

To have declared today an eating fest. It started with a bagel with cream cheese and mini quiches. There is also lots of chocolate in my future.

To stay in tonight rather than fight the restaurant crowds. The food is never as good on a holiday and it seems rushed so they can turn tables quickly. 

To know this is why men buy us cards, treats and flowers.....

To send out Happy Valentine's Day messages excessively on text message, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. Did I wish you a Happy Valentine's Day yet????????


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homemade Cappuccino

Last night we had a fabulous dinner at Ca 'Del Sole and with dessert my husband had a cappuccino. It had been so long since I had one, I usually order a latte, and I loved it. So for breakfast this morning I decided to make my own. I don't have a milk frother but I improvised with a pot of hot milk and my immersion blender. It worked perfectly. The milk was steamy, frothy, creamy and delicious.

I love this cup and saucer. My sister gave me 2 of them for my birthday a few years ago. Makes me smile whenever I use them.

 Anthony Bourdain had a cappuccino in Rome on his new show The Layover and it showed the Italians finishing their drink by using a spoon to eat the cream at the end. Delicious!

You'll need an espresso maker for this drink. I use the 12-cup stovetop one. I've had a fancy electric one in the past that didn't make espresso nearly as well as this one does.

Do you make fancy coffee drinks at home? What's your favorite?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

14 Days of Love- Treats

I had to start with the photo for this post because seriously, how cute is this? I saw the idea on Pinterest and knew it would be a part of the Days of Love. Follow the recipe on the Rice Krispies box and sprinkle with pink sugar while the treats are still a little warm. Once cooled, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make these adorable treats. If you spray the cookie cutter with a little cooking spray it keeps the hearts from sticking to the cutter.  I must admit I ate all the scraps and a couple hearts while I was making them. They are just too yummy.

I wrapped them up for my family and some friends at work because I really didn't need too many extras in the house. I have already eaten my weight in cereal and marshmallows. It's worth it though.

When was the last time you made Rice Krispie treats?

Monday, February 6, 2012

French Brownies with a Mexican twist

So are you supremely happy, deeply devastated or couldn't care less about the Giants winning the Super Bowl? I'm happy since I was rooting for them.
What did you think of the half-time show? I thought the costumes for Vogue were an odd choice for the song but overall I enjoyed it. Madonna looks amazing. Definitely inspires me to exercise.
As for the food, I contributed chips, salsa, guacamole and these brownies.....
French Chocolate Brownies that I adapted from Brown Eyed Baker. Follow the recipe but add 1/2 teaspoon, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne to the dry ingredients and 1 tablespoon of Kahula to the melted chocolate and butter. Next time I think I'll add an extra tablespoon of Kahula to intensify the flavor. If you try that, let me know what you think.

The top is crackly goodness and the rest is fudgy chewy deliciousness.

Up close and personal brownie shot, right before I took a nice big bite. Yum! 
Oh and a nice photo of my pretty pink self-manicure.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

14 Days of Love- Breakfast in Bed

I'm a huge fan of Valentine's Day. It's my favorite holiday, second only to Christmas. For me it's not so much about the romance but about the reminder to show your spouse you love him/her. Marriage takes effort and being willing to care for your partner even when you don't feel like it. I love the little things- bringing a hot cup of coffee when he's still in bed or starting the shower so it's nice and hot, putting a little love note in his lunch or picking up something at the store I know he's been wanting. So, Valentine's Day is right up my alley. Big red hearts, mushy cards and candlelit dinners....bring it on. For this reason, I started the 14 Days of Love. Every year starting on Feb 1st, I surprise my husband with something everyday. Saturday morning, was breakfast in bed. He loves a traditional eggs, bacon, grits, toast and coffee breakfast so to make it special I used heart shaped molds to make eggs.

During this time of year you can find these molds everywhere. I got them at Costplus. Make sure you spray them well with cooking spray so the egg doesn't stick to the sides.

How cute is this egg? So why not surprise your honey with breakfast in bed one morning. I guarantee the smile of pleasure or shock LOL will be worth it.

Do you love or hate Valentine's Day?

If you love it, how do you make it special?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes cooked in Coconut Oil

Have you ever cooked with coconut oil? Trader Joes recently started carrying it so I picked up a jar and then for the longest time couldn't figure out when to use it. It just didn't seem right to use it for savory foods and baking with it didn't seem like an option so it sat in my cupboard until pancake Saturday. And we have a winner. I actually prefer it to cooking pancakes in butter. The coconut flavor is very subtle and seems to have a pretty high smoke point so it doesn't burn easily.

I used Barefoot Contessa's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes recipe but instead of bananas I added blueberries. This is my favorite pancake recipe. The batter has a nice tang to it which is great with real maple syrup. Yum!

How do you like your pancakes? I'm a big fan of strawberries and whipped cream.