December 31, 2011

2011 In Review

Well, today is the last day of the year 2011, and I can't quite believe how fast it went.

Here are the top 10 recipes of 2011:

10. Danza Del Sol Sangria



9. Minestrone Soup



8. Black Bottom Cupcakes



7. Pork Tenderloin w/Coleslaw



6. Rolo Treats



5. Porcini Mushroom Pizza



4. Coffee Cake



3. Pumpkin Roulade



2. Penne Rosa



1. Bourbon-Peach Pulled Pork



I hope everyone has a fun and safe New Year's Eve! Enjoy!

December 30, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

And now for the best part of our Christmas feast - DESSERT!!

I believe I have mentioned this before... but we love Bobby Flay. That being said - this is by far the putsiest (is that even a word??) recipe on earth. Here is the real version. Below is what we did. I am so sorry in advance - this is an insanely long post - and a long recipe - but believe me it was so worth it! This is the best damn pumpkin bread pudding I have ever had.

I should also mention - this is the best pumpkin bread I've ever had - I could have just made that, slathered it in cream cheese frosting and been happy!

First we made the pumpkin bread (the day before) - Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

8 ounces (scant 1 cup) canned unsweetened pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

2/3 cup water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar, and oil at high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. At low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and water and mix until just combined. 

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely. 


Once the bread is cool, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice each half into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a large baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven until lightly toasted, turning once, about 20 minutes. Let cool.




Next, you add to the pumpkin bread - Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup pure canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons bourbon
Pumpkin Bread, toasted and cubed, recipe follows
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, recipe follows
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, recipe follows
Freshly whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. 

Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined, remove the vanilla pod, and whisk in the bourbon. Strain the custard into a clean bowl.
Scatter the pumpkin bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard. 

Bake for about an hour - until it's no longer jiggly!



Next we made the Caramel Apple Sauce - Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup apple juice

1 star anise

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

4 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 


1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup apple juice



Combine the cream, the 1/2 cup apple juice, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while you make the caramel. 

Combine the brown sugar, and 1/4 in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring, until it's a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture a little at a time, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the apple schnapps and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. 

THEN, we made fresh whipped cream - Ingredients:
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean - scrapped
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Add all the ingredients to a mixer and whip until thick.

Scoop out the pumpkin bread mixture, cover with the apple caramel sauce, and top with the whipped cream. 



Enjoy!

December 29, 2011

Turkey Salad

This is a recipe very near and dear to me - Mike even asked me if I was sure I wanted to post it. This is what my grandma Hazel makes every time we visit, and it is what we always have for holiday meals. It sounds totally weird to everyone else, but it makes perfect sense to us!

This is also a great recipe if you have leftover turkey and you don't know what to do with it! Serve it in sandwich form, or eat it plain.

Ingredients overall:
Cooked turkey breast, cooled and cubed
Minced onion
Minced celery
Mayonnaise- Hellman's to be exact.

Ingredients in the sauce:
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of vinegar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard

1 (15 ounce) can of evaporated milk

Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan - except for the milk and bring to a boil. Once it is fully boiling, remove it from the heat, and pour in the evaporated milk while continuing to whisk. Once combine pour into a bowl and let it cool.

In a large bowl pour about about a cup of the prepared sauce - scoop in about 1/3 cup of mayo whisk together until smooth. Add the cubed turkey, add some onion and celery then stir it together. Continue mixing the ingredients together until you have the perfect mixture for you. If you like a lot of onion, add more onion, if you like a lot of celery, add more, etc.



Enjoy!

December 28, 2011

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Day two of our Christmas feast posts - wild mushroom risotto. This is yet another putsy recipe - my poor mother - we didn't choose anything easy or quick this year.

We didn't change this recipe much - we only used about 1/2 of the mushroom paste you're supposed to use - honestly, I don't think it needed any of that piece, you can omit that part if you want to. I added porcini salt, because it's fantastic and I put it in everything that calls for mushrooms.

Here is the link to the recipe, it's also listed below (duh).

Ingredients:
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed with heel your hand
1 1/2 pounds assorted fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster or cremini, cleaned and sliced
Kosher salt
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaking in 3 cups hot water
1 medium or 2 small onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
2 cups dry white wine
6 to 7 cups hot low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped chives
2 teaspoons porcini salt


Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil and add the smashed garlic cloves. Bring to a medium-high heat. When the garlic cloves have begun to brown and are very aromatic remove and discard them. Add the assorted fresh mushrooms to the pan and season with salt. Saute the mushrooms until they are soft and pliable. Turn off the heat and reserve.


Using your hand, carefully scoop the porcini mushrooms out of the hot water. (At this point the water should have cooled off significantly. If it is still too hot for your hand, use a slotted spoon.) Pour the top 2/3 of the mushroom water into another container and reserve for use while making the risotto. Discard the bottom third. It contains a lot of sand and dirt from the mushrooms. Puree the rehydrated mushrooms with a little of the reserved mushroom water to make a smooth mushroom paste. This will not look good but it will certainly taste good! Reserve.


Coat a large saucepot abundantly with olive oil. Add the onions and season generously with salt. Bring the pot to a medium-high heat. Cook the onions, stirring frequently until they are very soft and aromatic but have no color. Add the rice and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook the rice for 2 to 3 minutes to toast, stirring frequently. Add wine to cover the surface of the rice and stir frequently until it has completely absorbed. Add the reserved mushroom water and then add chicken stock until the liquid has covered the surface of the rice. Stir frequently until the stock has absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process 2 more times. Check for seasoning, you probably will need to add salt.


During the third addition of stock, add the reserved sauteed mushrooms and 2 tablespoons of the pureed porcini mushrooms. When the stock has absorbed into the rice and the rice is cooked but still "al dente", remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter and cheese and whip until well combined. This will set the perfect consistency of the rice. The rice should flow and not be able to hold its shape and look very creamy. Serve immediately garnished with chives.



 Enjoy!

December 27, 2011

Brussels Sprouts

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

This year was a great Christmas for us - we both got everything we could have ever wanted and more. Plus, we got to see way more family than we did last year. Mike did have to work overnights most of the weekend, but all in all I call this Christmas a success!

This week I will post the recipes from our Christmas feast - there were only 5 of us, which is pretty typical, but my mom always makes enough for a small army!

First up - Brussels Sprouts! Personally, I think brussels sprouts get a bad rap - they are good!!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Kosher salt
1 pound Brussels sprouts,outer leaves and stems removed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a 2-quart baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. 


Drain the Brussels sprouts and coarsely chop, and place in a bowl. Pour the remaining ingredients into the
bowl, and toss until evenly coated. Place in a baking dish and bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes.



Enjoy!

December 23, 2011

Toffee

I love Christmas time... but, it always end up being a lot of sweets. Every year I struggle with whether or not I should give gifts, or treats, and who I should give them to. I found this recipe a while back, and since it's so stinking easy, I decided to make a few batches as Christmas gifts for people at work, and for our neighbors. It's always a hit and the ingredient list is very short - both of which makes this an easy choice.

*Make any variation you'd like; crush red and green M&M's on top for a more Christmas feel, or sprinkle coarse sea salt on top if you like the salty/sweet combo, I'm betting orange zest or craisins would be awesome sprinkled on top too.

Ingredients:
1 sleeve of graham crackers
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Kosher salt - optional
12 ounces dark chocolate (a little more than one bags of chocolate chips)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Layer the graham crackers into the bottom of the pan in one layer, no need to crush them or anything.


Throw the butter, brown sugar and pecans into a saucepan. Heat together, stirring often until it boils. Pour the mixture over the graham crackers. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. While that is baking, melt the chocolate chips. When the timer goes off on the oven, take the pan out and pour the chocolate evenly over the graham cracker mixture.

Let the pan cool on top of the stove for a few minutes, and then toss it into the fridge or freezer (depending on how patient you are!) When the chocolate is set (no longer glossy) you can pop the whole thing out by pulling the parchment paper up. Cut with a pizza cutter, or large knife and serve in bite size bites!  I cut mine rather haphazardly much to Becky and Taylor's dismay - they prefer even squares. Personally, I think that takes too much work. I store these in the fridge so that the chocolate doesn't melt!


Oh and how cute is this Christmas dish towel? My soon to be MIL is the Christmas Queen... yea, I just called her that. Mike has on more than one occasion told me that he expects me to go all out when decorating for Christmas, and that the last two years I have fallen short. My MIL was helping him out this year so she brought us some dish towels, a wreath, a TREE, and even a poinsettia. I solemnly vow to be the first person in Target on December 26th to stock up on everything at slashed prices so that next year I will totally hit the mark for Christmas decorations!

Enjoy!

December 22, 2011

"Healthy" Guacamole

There is a housewife... you know from one of those reality shows I don't watch. She has books where she teaches people how to be skinny or stay skinny or get skinny. I'm on board. I like people who eat healthy, and have tips for staying healthy and motivated. I thought she might have something good to say, instead she tells women to "Eat nothing, but TASTE everything". Let me tell you, I was no longer on board.

That being said... There is the guacamole recipe looming out there that contains peas as a way to make it healthier. Personally, I don't think there is anything unhealthy about guacamole. Avocados are so insanely good for you, high in omegas, low in fat, etc. that I have been known to sit down with a bowl of guac for dinner. As my mother always told me "It's not to guac that will kill you - it's the chips!" BTW mom, to me this means put more guac on each chip. Ha! I love the way I can justify just about anything in my head.

Back to that recipe - you use equal WEIGHT of cooked peas, and avocado. You mash them together and prepare your guacamole the way you normally would. I love guac. I love peas. So, it's always been on my list to try. I will note that I added way more ingredients than I normally do, I think I was trying to distract myself from the peas.

Ingredients:
Avocados - I used two
Peas - equal weight, yes you need a food scale for this
1 tomato, diced
1/3 red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
2 cloves of garlic
Worcestershire - a few dashes
Lime juice - one section will do
Salt and Pepper
Your favorite chips

Gut the avocados, and weigh them. Write down the weight! Then weigh the peas to the matching amount. Cook the peas, and mash them with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients using a fork to further break down the peas. Serve it chilled with chips or tacos or fajitas, or in a bowl on the couch with the bag of chips next to you.

I'm sure you're thinking what I was thinking, so here I'll rattle off the answer - Yes, you can taste the peas. I would make it again, but I would cut the pea content down to half the weight of the avocados.


Enjoy!

December 21, 2011

Brownies w/Frango Mints

Tis the season for Frango mints! I feel like they are everywhere, and that everyone has them. I have been thinking about them constantly lately trying to figure out what I can put them in. Cookies, stick them in the center of a cupcake, something with peanut butter, etc.

Instead I chose to simply melt them and spread them on top of brownies. And, since you're smart enough to figure out how to get to this URL, the directions are going to be fairly easy.

Buy a box brownie mix, make them. Buy a box of Frango mints, melt all but about three rows of them. Spread the Frango mints on top of the cooled brownies. Let them set up again, cut them. Eat them!




Now that I think about it - make chocolate cupcakes, cook them half way, drop a frango mint in each. Then let them finish cooking. I bet it would be a fantastic surprise in the middle of a cupcake too!

Either way, enjoy!

December 20, 2011

Bourbon-Peach Pulled Pork

I have found so many new food blogs lately, and I have to say that people are clever. They have great blog titles and witty posts, the whole package. So let me tell you - the competition is fierce! :-)

One of the people I "met" (I use this term loosely, since we haven't met face to face!) recently is Rachel her blog is called "Not Rachael Ray" how awesome is that?? No worries, she has no beef with Rachael Ray, it's just a fun title. My point is, I was on her site and I found this recipe - I HAD to try it, because I knew that Mike would just love it. So, I put my own spin on it.

Fair warning - this is a crock pot recipe that takes hours which is also what makes it so fantastic!

Rachel's recipe called for Mangoes - use them if you have them. Our grocery store didn't have any ripe enough to use that day. I walked out forgetting to buy a substitutes - So I used canned peaches. No judgement people!

Ingredients:
1 (4 pound) pork shoulder
3 peaches sliced and chopped - in all honesty I used 2 cans of harvest spice peaches - it's what I had! :-)
2 bay leaves
1 and 1/2 bottles of your favorite BBQ sauce
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
3/4 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon chipotle powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of honey
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

In a large skillet I used about a tablespoon of olive oil and coated each side of the pork shoulder. Then I generously salted and peppered each side. I pan fried it until each side was good and brown. Then I added all the ingredients into the crock pot. Cooked it on high for about 4 hours (until it started to whistle) then I turned it onto low for another hour. At the 5 hour mark I took out the pork and I pulled it with two forks. Then I added the pulled meat back in and let it cook for another 45 minutes. That's when I decided I couldn't wait any more!

*Making the dish the way I made it gives it a subtle heat to it - add more or less based on your tastes! It could have been spicier if you ask me!

Served on onion buns with sweet potato fries and this coleslaw.


Enjoy!

December 19, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

We have very little family in Minnesota - we are all spread out in Iowa, Kansas, West Virginia, Maryland, etc. So whenever we have the chance to get together with the few that are here - we jump on it. This last time I stressed my mom out just a little by giving her less than 24 hours notice. (Seriously, who cleans when family is coming over? Doesn't the word FAMILY imply that they have to love you anyway!?)

We especially jump on the chance when this little guy and his parents are available. Seriously, how cute is he? We fight over him we all love him so much.

(Sorry Mark he's too cute not to show off!)

I digress - any who this last time we all got together we made pizzas! This was one that we made, and I liked it, but thought it needed something (like bacon!) this time around. Here's what I came up with!

Ingredients:
1 prepare pizza dough crust
Your favorite BBQ sauce
3 slices of bacon or pancetta, cooked and chopped (I used pancetta since I had some leftover)
1/4 cup red onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper sliced thinly
1 cup of cooked and shredded chicken (I used the pre-shredded rotisserie chicken you find at the grocery store)
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
4 scallions, chopped
Mozzarella cheese

Cook the bacon or pancetta until it's good and crispy, then set it aside. Chop/mince/dice all ingredients, and preheat your oven to the package instructions for the dough. Roll and stretch out your pizza dough using plenty of flour. Slather the dough with plenty of BBQ sauce then add the ingredients as you wish and cover with cheese.

I used less red onion than Mike probably would have liked, but I'm not a huge fan. Adjust the ingredients to what you like.



Enjoy!
 
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