Wednesday, June 30, 2010

CEiMB - Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and White Beans

Bri over at Yoshimi vs Motherhood chose this wonderful and healthy Ellie Krieger's recipe for penne pasta using fresh tomatoes, garlic and cannellini white beans for our recipe challenge this week.   We grilled some chicken to accompany the pasta and it was delicious.  I did not have fresh basil so I used some italian herb blend.  I did not have fresh grated parmesan because unbeknownst to me, Chandler had eaten it all, so it has regular parmesan on top.  Thank you Bri for a delicious pick this week!  I just love Ellie's recipes.

Just a little ranting on the side here about a non-food subject.  So. . . I took a western shirt to the dry cleaners.  Don't ask why I have a western shirt.  It's not important.  When I picked it up, they had charged me $8 for cleaning it.  I asked to speak to the manager and asked why that shirt was $8 and the rest of the shirts were $2.50.  He said because it had "special pearl buttons" on it and they did not want to ruin the buttons.  I told him K-Mart must not have thought they were so "special"  because the shirt only cost $4.  I have issues with dry cleaners.  You might as well know that.   Don't you just hate paying more for cleaning than the garment cost in the first place?

I hope all of you beautiful people have a safe and happy 4th of July!  We will be grilling out at the lake and enjoying hopefully beautiful weather all weekend.  I'm planning to cook up some barbeque hamburgers stuffed with mushrooms and vidalia onions.

Try this pasta.

3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1(15 ounce) can cannellini beans
1/2 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Slice each tomato into 8 wedges and discard the seeds. Put the tomato wedges and garlic into a 9 by 13-inch roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and a few turns of pepper. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
Drain the beans into a large colander in the sink. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta into the colander containing the beans, so the hot pasta water will warm the beans. Return drained pasta and beans to the pasta pot.
When the tomatoes are done, pick out the garlic cloves, squeeze the garlic out of the skin into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Pour the roasted tomatoes into the pasta pot, add the garlic, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the basil and additional salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve topped with the Parmesan.

Chocolate with Francois - Chocolate Macarons

This is my first time to participate in Chocolate with Francois.  Of course I wanted the end result to be perfect, so perfect that you would all be uber impressed with my baking abilities.  Well you know when you start out with that attitude, chances are something will go wrong.  And it did.  I had no idea what these were supposed to look like so I just winged it.  I should have googled them first, because after I made them, I googled and found a photo and mine are. . . shall we say . .  a little fluffy in comparison!  And. . .  I made these twice. 

The first time, I overcooked my syrup and it was 260 instead of the 250 required.  I also took it off the stove and it sat for just a nano-second while I was getting ready to pour it into the beating eggwhites.  When I poured into my egg whites, it turned to a big sugar lump.  I forged ahead however thinking it would beat up, mix up and work.  Also, when I mixed the egg whites into the dry ingredients, it was like a big ball of goo.  At this point I should have admitted defeat, but no not me.  Still I forged on.  I piped them onto the silpat mat and they were very flat.  After fifteen minutes, I looked at them and thought, "this is meringue.  It is supposed to be fluffy."  So I dumped them off the sheet into the garbage and decided to start over.   Washed all the dishes up and began again with a new fresh attitude.

This time, I beat all the egg whites at once.  I watched the sugar very carefully and as soon as it hit the 250 mark I poured.  Worked like a charm.  Then I gently folded in the dry ingredients.  Now that my courage overran my abilities, and thinking surely I must now be superior to Francois, I thought, why pipe.  I could drop by teaspoonfuls and eyeball it and make perfect circles of heavenly bliss.

Of course, in the end, Francois was the superior one and my redneck macarons were mountainous and not perfect circles at all.  But when they came out of the oven, ohhhh they are delicious.  Because I am impatient, I ate one immediately and burned the roof of my mouth!  I would have to say it was worth it.  At least the ganache was pretty straight forward and easy to make. I used my standby Ghirardelli chocolate.  I'm definitely going to try these again maybe at the holidays when my children are home to enjoy.

I am excited to be in this group and I hope I can keep up with all the fabulous members.  One of my favorite bloggers Leslie of Lethally Delicious hosted this group this month and made this excellent pick.  You can click on her link and see how hers turned out and get the recipe there too if you want to try these.

Friday, June 25, 2010

BAREFOOT BLOGGERS - Scalloped Tomatoes and Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Josie of Pink Parsley Catering chose Scalloped Tomatoes.  I found this recipe interesting and uncomplicated so I made it on a weeknight after work.  It was delicious!  We paired it with pork chops the first night, and the second night we used the leftovers to put on top of some pasta.  Although the bread in it was a bit soggy the second night, it was still delicious. 

Gwenn of Cooking in Pajamas chose Sour Cream Coffee Cake for this month's second selection.  It was very easy to make and very tasty.  I froze half of it and took the other half to my dance club that night and shared with my friends who all enjoyed it very much.  The only substitution I made to the recipe was I left off the drizzled confectioner's sugar on top because I am trying to cut back some on my sugar intake.    Another delicious pick!  See the recipes below and try these out for yourself.  You won't regret it.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
•12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
•1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
•3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
•1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
•1 1/4 cups sour cream
•2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
•2 teaspoons baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the streusel:
•1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
•1/2 cup all-purpose flour
•1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
•3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
•3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
For the glaze:
•1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
•2 tablespoons real maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Scalloped Tomatoes

•Good olive oil

•2 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule, crusts removed
•16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 pounds)
•1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
•2 tablespoons sugar
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
•1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.
Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CEiMB - Chicken Paella with Sausage and Olives

Our CEiMB is back up and running after a short break!  Margaret of Tea and Scones chose our recipe this week for the group.  I decided after checking out the recipe it would be something Chandler would love so I prepared it for his lunch on Father's day!  The only substitution I made was the sausage.  They had chorizo sausage at Publix, but it did not seem to be too fresh as the last date of sale was two days from now.  So I substituted Cajun smoked sausage and it had quite a spicey bite to it!  I was not quite sure how green olives would blend with this mixture of meat and rice, but they added a very nice flavor to it.  If you notice the tomatoes are missing in this photo, they are!  I forgot to add them when I was preparing it, but they did get added after the photo.  And my photo is not very good because as usual, I was in too much of a hurry to plan and stage a lovely photo!

I don't know how it is in your part of the country, but it is hot here.  And I mean HAWT.  Like 98 degrees on Sunday.  Remember when we were little we would put on swimsuits and run through the sprinkler and it was so cold on our little hot bodies but we did not care?  My neighbors would probably have me committed if I did that now.  I'll just settle for some ice cold lemonade instead.  Have you ever thought about how much time you have spent buying swimsuits?  I actually picked a swimsuit off the rack at Kohls the other day and without trying it on brought it home and it fit. Usually it is harder to choose.  One makes our stomach look big. That one makes our hips look wide. This one flattens our chest out like a pancake and that one shows cleavage down to our navel. This other one rides up our rear like a letter in a mailbox. My motto is show a lot of cleavage and then the viewers will never get down as low as the stomach, hips, and legs. Problem is I don't have cleavage either!!  I know I know - TMI.

This paella was very easy to prepare.  I did have to bake it a bit longer than the recipe said as my rice did not cook as fast as it should have.  We loved this and I will definitely make it again!  Check it out for yourself and please go check out Margaret's blog and see what she did with hers.  Just click on her link above.

1 T plus 2 tsp olive oil

3 oz chorizo sausage with casing removed, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 10 oz package frozen peas
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup sliced green Spanish pimento-stuffed olives
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
small pinch of saffron threads

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat 1 T of oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat (use a skillet that has a lid to cover)
Add the chorizo and cook, stir occasionally until browned, about 3 minutes.
Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned about 5 minutes.
Transfer the chicken and chorizo to a plate.
Heat the remaining 2 tsp of oil in the skillet,
Add the onion, and cook stirring until softened about 3-5 minutes
Add the garlic and continue to cook for a minute more.
Return the chicken and chorizo to the skillet
Add the chicken broth, peas, rice, tomato, olives, salt, pepper, turmeric, and saffron.
Cover and finish cooking in the oven for 30 minutes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

TWD - Dressy Chocolate Loaf

This week I have had hair issues. One hint of moisture in the air and my hair, being naturally curly, just frizzes and gets huge making me feel like I need to carry saws with me to expand doorways to be able to walk through them. Other days, the sun is shining and I use my Instyler and pull those curls out to straight perfection. Yes, I actually have an Instyler and I love it! Have you ever noticed though that men actually define themselves by their hair or lack of it. "Oh you remember Joe Smo. He's younger than me, but has less hair." Or, "I saw Jim Beano at the store. He's going bald." Or, how about "John Frank's forehead just keeps getting higher and higher."  Also the "I wish I looked like George Clooney or at least had his hair." Chandler is always saying he will not go to a hair salon that gives those quick, cheap cuts. I tell him why not - it doesn't take an expert to cut those two hairs on the top of his head! He did have beautiful hair when we met. Sort of a mullet, but classier. Of course, if you are Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds you look good bald!  Okay, enough hair venting - on to the food part!

One of my favorite bloggers Amy Ruth of Amy Ruth Bakes is hosting this week's Tuesday with Dorie group.  Check out her web page for the recipe and to see her fabulous version of this chocolate cake.

I have good news and bad news.  Even though I followed Dorie's instructions to the letter, my cake fell in the middle.  I have never had a cake to do that before so I am not sure what happened.  Because of that, I was unable to cut the cake into the three layers it called for so I opted for two layers.  The cake was cold when I began to cut.  However, it just kept falling into pieces. 

I used Strawberry Seedless Jam for my filling.  Don't you love that I put this on a Mexican inspired plate?  It was the only square/rectangle one I had!  Here you can see the dip in the middle.

Then when I tried to frost it, the frosting was sticking to the cake and pulling off chunks of it.  I gave up on my hope of a perfect looking cake.  Even when I tried to slice it, it would just crumble.  The GOOD news is I do want to try it again though because it tasted so delicious!  I thought it was even better the next day.  My apologies to Amy Ruth for screwing up an uncomplicated recipe, but I can't wait to see hers!  And I hope you all will try this cake because it is really fabulous.  And  a perfect size cake for a dinner party.

Health Tip for the Week!  Mayo Clinic researchers report that women who enjoy a glass of wine each day are 54% less likely to gain weight. The healthier your weight, the happier your kidneys are. So get out there and have yourself a glass of red wine!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - I'm Baaaaack with Raisen Swirl Bread

After taking a much needed break from my baking group, I realized how much I had missed all of those quirky, funny, smart, talented, beautiful ladies and I decided to jump back in and start baking along again!

I was thinking just yesterday about getting older.  You know, thoughts like I can't do everything I did when I was 22 any more.  Heck who am I kidding.  I can't do all I did when I was 40.  It's a fact.  I am even having to ration myself on reading decorating magazines, because those photos of toilets in beautiful bathrooms can cause a warm drizzle to go down my leg.  Not to mention my cottage cheese legs.  They just won't firm up no matter how many hours a day I "watch" Denise Austin videos.  Before tattoos were even popular, I wanted one.  Now I am afraid to get a rose tattooed on my breast because before long it will be a long-stemmed one!  Beautiful five inch sexy, come hither shoes are a thing of the past for me as well.  I've learned to be okay with the big black orthopedic shoes my grandmother wore.  Okay, not really.

I have decided to be a bit more proactive about my aging and help you all out as well.  Each week in my blog I will post a tiny morsel of information that will help you in your journey as you age.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom for today's tip.

Susan of Food-Baby chose Raisen Swirl Bread for this week's TWD challenge.   You can use the link and jump over to her fabulous blog and get the recipe for this fabulous bread!  I've got to admit.  Yeast scares me.  Not scary the way monsters are, nor does it keep me awake at night, but it just seems like there is so much room for failure on yeast related recipes.  But I gave it a good try and got great results.  The dough rose nicely while Chandler and I watched The Inglorious Basterds with Brad Pitt.  The house was filled with that wonderful smell of yeast.  After freezing the dough for thirty minutes, it was quite easy to roll out.  I'm not sure I rolled it exactly to the specifications, but close enough.  One thing I love about Dorie's recipes is the detail of her instructions makes the recipe easy to follow.

It did not rise as much as I would have liked.  We really enjoyed it for breakfast!

Today's growing older health/beauty tip.  Suffering from fatigue?  Get a jump start on energy with pumpkin seeds.  They are loaded with magnesium and help to keep the heart rhythm healthy and the nervous system functioning properly.  Just snacking on 1/4 cup a day will keep your motor running!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Birthday Cake!

I wanted to make a special cake for my friend for her birthday.  I looked through tons of recipes.  I finally chose this Berry Torte because fresh berries are in season and it looked like a 4th of July cake.  I know it isn't the 4th yet, but it will be soon.

You make the cake in two layers and then cut the layers in half making four thin layers.  My top layer fell apart because it stuck to the cooling rack.  I just stuck it on with the frosting and went with it.  The raspberries my husband bought for me to use were moldy.  I couldn't even salvage one berry.  That should have been my first two hints.

I did not love this cake.  The frosting was too sweet.  I should have made a cake from scratch.  This was a white cake mix.  The frosting is canned fluffy white frosting mixed with cool whip.  Then you put berries on top and cover with a strawberry jam glaze.   

I won't be making this again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

CEiMB - Shortcut Collard Greens

Our group is missing their leader and we are hoping everything is okay!  To help her out while she is MIA, my friend Joanne at Applecrumbles and I decided to forge ahead and just keep cooking those delicious Ellie recipes!  Thanks also to Liz at thenotsoskinnykitchen for her help in trying to locate/email everyone in the group.  Joanne chose Shortcut Collard Greens. 

Kathryn of Grandma's Kitchen Table is choosing Salmon Florentine and Quinoa Pilaff for next week's recipe.  Please look in Ellie's So Easy book on pages 196-198 and cook along with us next Thursday!

Now I'm a southern girl and you don't have to ask me twice to cook or eat those wonderful greens!  My DH, the yankee, however is a different matter.  He hates greens of any kind.  He also hates onions.  So I made this recipe and instead of chopped onions I just used some dried ones.  I figure I can usually slip those in and he does not notice so much.  This was a beautiful dish of greens and very easy to prepare.   I have never eaten collards without a big hunk of cornbread to go with, but tonight I was in a bit of a hurry so we did not get the cornbread.  Instead we had corn on the cob and a grilled pork chop.  With my class reunion coming up in just a month, I really need to watch what I eat and lose a little of this belly fat that is taking over my middle section!!  If anyone has any suggestions on a quick method to do that, please let me know!!  Yoga is not taking it off.

On a side note, I got pulled over by a cop this morning on the way to work.  It seems he "thought" I ran a red light.  I assured him it was "yellow" when I passed under it.  He, however, did not seem to believe me.  Apparently he does not know me personally and realize how honest I am.  So he wrote me a ticket.  The nerve of him.  Now I have to go to driving school.  Bummer!!  I promise you - all my readers - it was YELLOW!!  Also, he put the wrong time on the ticket so if he cannot even tell time I do not understand how he can possibly know for a fact the light was red and not yellow.  Go figure.

Try these greens!!  Delicious.

Short-Cut Collard Greens
4 (1/2 cup) servings.Ingredients
1 1/4 pounds collard greens
1 tablespoon water
2 slices Canadian bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Remove the stems and center ribs from the collard greens and
discard. Cut the leaves into 1/2-inch strips. Place the greens into a large,
microwave-safe bowl with the water and cover tightly. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat a large skillet and cook the bacon for 2 minutes on each side.
Remove the bacon from the pan, chop, and set aside. Add the oil and onion to the pan and
cook until onions have softened, about 2 minutes. Add the collard greens and stir in the
vinegar, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered,
for 30 minutes. Add the chopped bacon to the pan, and season with salt.

Fifties Party and an Announcement!

We had such a good time last Saturday night at our Fifties Party.  Wanted to share a photo of us with our great friends Noel and JP.  Don't you love my poodle skirt and rah rah shoes? 

Also, drumroll. . . .after a short break, I have rejoined the group Tuesdays with Dorie and I am so looking forward to baking along with those wonderful gals again!  Check out my blog on Tuesdays for new and delicious treats.