Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart

This is my 100th post!!!
When I go to the bookstore, my favorite thing to do is look at cookbooks.  Not that I usually buy one, I just want to look.  A couple months ago, I was perusing cookbooks when I saw this recipe.  And I was sold.  I went home and ordered the book that day.  It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  It's one of my favorite cookbooks right now.  I have yet to make anything out of it that I didn't love.  Including these three things.

Monday, January 30, 2012

French Bread (Italian Style) and Lost Moments

Quite often, when I am bored, I will pick up one of my cookbooks and flip through it.  Looking for something to make in the future.  I have a cookbook that is from 1976 and not too long ago, I realized it contained treasured recipes from my ancestors.  I was looking though it just the other day and feeling a little nostalgic.  Up until I was 5 we lived next door to my "Aunt Catherine."  

(yes, this is seriously a Polaroid that I scanned.  Should that make me feel old because it SO does!  My brother and I with Aunt Catherine)
Who, in reality, was my great aunt.  She was my grandpa's sister and their parents came to America from Italy, just before they had children, to begin new lives.  She was the sweetest lady.  The kind who was always in the kitchen and always offered food upon our arrival.  I remember being baffled when I realized she had a front door at her house.  I didn't know if I had ever seen that door open.  I was almost fascinated with it and began to wonder if it did, indeed, lead to the outdoors.  We always went in the back door and sat around her table while she fluttered around the kitchen.  It was an oddity to sit in either of the living rooms in her house.  We only did that for birthday parties when the kitchen was filled to capacity. 

When I turned 5, we moved to a different part of town and rarely saw her anymore because my mom was upset with her over something.  I know why she was upset, but honestly, it doesn't even justify a mention.  Do those silly things even matter now?  They are both gone and I wonder if from the other side, they look back over their lives and roll their eyes over such petty decisions.  I am now missing those lost moments.  

It's not that I enjoyed cooking as a teenager.  Don't get me wrong, I made a lot of cookies and that sort of thing, but not the cooking I do now.  As I was looking through this priceless cookbook, I started to picture what my time with my aunt could have been like.  I share a similar interest with her or I would have if she were still here.  We could have spend countless hours in her kitchen with her showing me all those things her mother showed her and telling me what her life was like as a little girl, telling me about what my grandpa was like as a boy and who their parents were.  And now I roll my eyes at the pettiness of my teenage years and wonder why I would have thought that to be a complete bore. I am grateful that these recipe were preserved somewhere for me to find when I found myself (often in the kitchen).  At least I can thank my mom for that.  Not only did she give me the cookbook, but when she went to school at CEU she helped put it together. 

Looking through these recipes and reading her brief story made me yearn for a simpler time, when the kitchen was a place of gathering and memory making.  Too often, I shew my kids out of the kitchen and use it as a time for solitude.  I am going to try to be better.  Oh that's right, that's my New Year's Resolution!
I have already posted a french bread recipe that I used A LOT.  When I looked at the recipe in this book, I wondered how it could be better that the recipe I had.  I didn't have much faith.  Our equipment is better now, our supplies are better, it just seemed like it would be out of date.   But feeling nostalgic, as I was, I decided I wanted to make it either way.  I translated it to modern times, I had to find out what a "yeast cake" was and I used my mixer rather than the spoon it called for.  All bias aside, this was some of the best bread I have ever made.  It requires a bit more attention than the previous recipe but it's so delicious it's worth it!  Not that I am throwing out the old, I will keep that on hand for times I can't spare the extra attention for the bread, but this one now reigns as my favorite.  The outside of this bread isn't as crusty and chewy as the other, so if that's what you like about french bread, stick to the other one.

French Bread
1/2 cup warm water
1 T plus 1 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups hot water
3 T sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 T salt
5 1/2 -6 cups flour, divided (I used bread flour)
1 egg white and 1 tsp water for egg wash
sesame seeds (optional)

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water 
and let sit for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.  
(if your yeast isn't foamy after 10 minutes something is wrong.  Either water was too hot, too cold or yeast is not good.  Remember you want the water to feel like a warm bath)

Meanwhile, add remaining water, 3 cups flour, salt, sugar and oil to bowl of mixer and mix on low 30 seconds and then turn to med and mix for 2-3 minutes.  ( I use the paddle for this part)  Once yeast is foamy, add to flour mixture and combine.  

Switch to dough hook and mix in flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Until all combined.  
The dough should be pretty sticky still, imagine being able to stir with a spoon (not super easy to stir with a spoon but still doable).  I used about 5 3/4 cups flour.  Turn off mixer and cover with a towel.  
Set timer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes turn mixer on to stir down the dough.  Cover and let rest another ten minutes and then stir down again.  Repeat until it's been done a total of 5 times.  
Dump dough onto lightly floured surface and using only as much flour as necessary, divide into two balls 
and roll each out into a rectangle about 9x12.  
Roll up like a jelly roll and place on jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.  {I wish I had one of these Commercial II Non-Stick Perforated French Bread Pan, but I don't so I tried to fashion something similar and it worked pretty well}  Tear three pieces of tinfoil the length of your baking pan.  Keeping the length, fold in half 3 times and bend edges to make the foil stand up.
place on jelly roll pan about 3-4 inches apart and cover with parchment paper.
After placing each loaf on top of parchment, push bottom of foil underneath the edge of the dough.
Beat egg whites and water until frothy and brush over tops of loaves.  Slash 3-4 times with sharp knife and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.  
Cover with greased plastic wrap and let raise until double in size.  About 30 minutes to an hour.
Bake at 400 for 35 minutes or until deep golden brown.  
Remove from oven and cover with a towel, let cool about 20 minutes.
We used it to make garlic bread and it was D-licious!
Garlic butter
1/2 cup butter
1-2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp parsley flakes (optional)

Heat 1 T butter over med heat, add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened but not brown.  Pour over remaining butter and cover and let sit for 20 minutes.  Stir in salt, Parmesan cheese, and parsley.  Spread over warm bread.
My Aunt Catherine reading a cookbook while watching TV.  See, I told you we had a lot in common. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apple Bacon Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

This is by far one of my favorite salads.  Ever.  I know it's because of the dressing.  I think it would taste good on just about anything.  

I tease Tyler about it constantly because the first time I made this dressing he refused to eat it.  I think I had to force it down his throat.  He has evolved quite a bit during our marriage but he used to think salad started and ended with Ranch dressing.  Nothing else.  Now, he asks me to make this salad often and admits that it is also his favorite salad.  I love that I

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bake 52: Light New York Cheesecake (individual size)

If you haven't already guessed, when it comes to baking and desserts, I am more of a go-big-or-go-home-kind-of-person.  I don't bake "light" very often.  I would rather eat a smaller amount of a regular dessert (that's what I tell myself when I am making it anyway) or just not have dessert at all (this is the lesser chosen of the two options).  With that in mind, I will have you know I thought the cheesecake was pretty good!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


True Random Number Generator  29Powered by RANDOM.ORG

AmyJan 20, 2012 11:17 AM
I love just about any kitchen tool. Especially the weird ones. I don't think I can pick a favorite I née them all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Homemade Oreos, Valentine's Style

I have a sickness.  I really do.  I know I do but I just can't seem to do anything about it.  I get things in my head and I just can't let it go until I get the outcome I want.  You would think I am talking about something important and you would be right.  I am talking about these Oreos.  (I might also have my priorities mixed up.)  I saw these

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Year's Resolutions and A GIVEAWAY (CLOSED)

My New Year's resolution is pretty simple:  To be Better in Every Way.  I have many areas that can be improved upon and I am sure if I stick to my plan, I can be just about perfect by the end of the year.  Or not, but maybe just a teensy bit closer.  So of course, this GIVEAWAY has to be better than the last if I am going to stay in line with my resolution.  I have been studying up and think I am ready, although it IS a lot of pressure!

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a knife very similar to this one:

(Cuisinart Ceramic 5-Inch Santoku with Plastic Handle and Break Resistant Blade)

and it's quickly become my favorite knife.  As long as it's treated with care (don't use it on a glass, textured cutting board), it will cut just about anything.  From a tomato to an onion to a potato.  None of my other knives make that transition so easily!  If you have one, you know what I am talking about and wouldn't mind having another one or having an extra for a gift.  And if you don't have one, you need one!  I really do think having reliable kitchen tools makes a world of difference!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs

Ummm, what?!  I know what you are thinking.  I really don't have anything to say for myself.  I don't consider myself a gourmet.  And when I first saw this recipe on Annie's blog, I just skimmed it over and didn't give it a second thought.  When in the world would I ever make that?  I was there long enough to see her rave reviews but that's about it.  And I didn't know if I believed her.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bake 52: Boston Cream Cupcakes

I don't think it will surprise anyone that this was my week to host and pick the recipe.  I probably should feel bad that Valerie was being good and picked Bran Muffins and then the next week, I dropped the cupcake bomb on everyone, but I really don't.  I think it was while I was making and sampling the pastry cream that I decided this was a pure genius decision and forgot completely that there were other people on Earth let alone in the baking group.  I mean seriously, a cupcake with pastry cream and a gooey chocolatey glaze?  It's no wonder it's one of the first things I noticed when initially flipping through my new book.  Do you see that little ray of light on the front of the cupcake.  Is it just me or does it look angelic?  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sausage and Mushroom Quiche

My computer and I are having a disagreement.  We have been at it since last night.  I was trying to finish this post and it was determined not to let me.  Needless to say, it won last night.  This morning, it is still out to destroy me.  I thought we were on the same team, but I guess not.  I had a photo of the quiche cut and ready to serve, but my computer doesn't want you to see it.  It doesn't want to download it from my email.  It's refusing.  So I guess for now, you will have to settle with the quiche in whole form.  What can I say, the computer has spoken.  If I can get it to work later, I will add it then.  Or maybe I will just decide that it's not that big of a deal.  Pick your battles and all that stuff, right?  Maybe this isn't a battle I should pick today.  After all, we are just really starting the day.  There might be some way more important things to chose from. I doubt it.  What could be more important than this quiche?  I find it hard to believe anything could be.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kettle Corn

I hope I am in time for your Friday day night movie party.  We have been making this for a couple months and I thought today might be a good day to share it.  It takes very little time to make, probably 5-10 minutes total.  And it's a pretty simple recipe, if you don't mind shaking your booty for a  few minutes.  I don't mind it.  I tell myself that I am burning off calories, you know, while preparing to eat more.  That's how I roll.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Roasted Tomato (Red Pepper) and Basil Soup

Speaking of healthy, wait until you see the info on this soup.  And it's meatless so I can check off one meatless meal for the week!  And it was so delicious.  And (are you sick of the "and" business yet?) I threw it in the crockpot after preparing everything and it was still delicious.  Which was perfect because I don't always know exactly when Tyler is going to get home, so when he did, I could do a couple things and serve dinner.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bake 52: Bran Muffins

Week 2 of Bake52!  50 to go. :)  

This week Valerie was our host and she chose Bran Muffins.  I understand her choice.  She picked right after the holidays and I think everyone was probably feeling like some healthy food!  I know I was.  

It pains me to admit that I am not sure I have ever made bran muffins.  It's just never been on my radar.  And that's one of the reasons I wanted to do the baking group.  I want to make things that I normally wouldn't make.  This week was perfect for me since it probably wasn't a recipe I would have picked and we all ended up really liking them.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fish Tacos

The first time I heard of fish tacos was when we were living in Hawaii.  Something about the sound of it made me want to throw up a little bit.  

It's not that I don't like fish.  I don't have a lot of luck cooking it; it doesn't seem to ever taste good when I do but I've ordered fish in restaurants before and enjoyed it.  Just the idea of fish being in a taco seemed to be a little ridiculous to me.  (If you invented the idea, I don't mean to offend you.)  They seem to be a big deal lately though.  My dad and Jan posted a recipe on their website recently and they seem to be featured in quite a few restaurants now-a-days.  I put them on my to-do list for the future, but I thought it might be further in the future.   And my plan was in place until a couple weeks ago when my dad and Jan were here, they took us to Taco Surf and I actually tasted a fish taco.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Corn Tortillas

And there's a glimpse of tomorrow's post!  I forgot to get pictures of the tortillas once they were cooked but before I put anything on them!  I will leave you guessing. :)  I really don't care too much for corn tortillas, if I had my way, I would only eat flour but I think there are a few things that require corn and so I conform.  I have to say that these were the best corn tortillas I have ever had.  I still don't know if they beat flour in my book.  Maybe homemade corn against store bought (already cooked) flour tortillas, that might be a close race.  If there ever is a race, I will let you know.  That would be something to watch for sure. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Homemade Croutons

 I sometimes forget about the croutons, but they really do add a lot with just a little, don't you think?  We are trying to cut back on breads and such because we are so healthy now.  I wanted a little crunch in my salad that other night and remembered I could make some croutons.  It makes me feel like I am not missing out on anything when we just have a salad and some chicken for dinner if there are croutons on my salad.  Don't worry, I am not cutting anything out of my diet.  I am just trying to make smarter decisions when eating so I can better justify dessert. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Avocado and Mango Salsa

 Look at this!  A healthy recipe!  And you guys didn't think I had it in me.  Okay, I know I have a few healthy ones on here, but I probably don't want to know the percentage of healthy vs not-healthy.

My brother, Davey, and I made this recipe about a year ago and served it with tortilla chips.  It was a hit.  When we went to prepare the ingredients, I was a little nervous.  I had never worked with mango before.  Davey said he knew what he was doing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bake52: Asparagus and Cheese Mini-Quiche

Our first Bake52 post!!!  Don't you think this is so exciting?  I really do.
Clare was our host this week (thanks for hosting on the first week Clare!) and she picked quiche.  I am a quiche lover myself so I was pretty happy with her pick.  I have been wanting to make mini-quiche since my sister-in-law's baby shower 4 years ago.  I thought it would be fun to make for her shower, but decided maybe it would be too much work and I also didn't have a mini-muffin pan.  A lot changes in four years because I now have a mini-muffin pan.  And when I turned to the quiche pages of the book, there were mini-quiche instructions.  It's almost like it was meant to be.  Destiny.  And I don't mess with destiny.   

My only problem was that there weren't as many options for the mini-quiche, as far as ingredients, as there were for the pie-sized variety.  I decided to make a pie sized option work in  my mini-sized pastries.  I debated whether or not I should use my regular pie crust recipe or one from the book.  I was ready to use one from the book but I didn't realize there were more than two options.  And of the two I looked at, I didn't have the right ingredients so I went with the usual.  Jen later informed me that there were more than two options.  Oops.  I should have flipped the page.  

All in all, it went pretty well.  The mini-quiche recipe is a double pie crust recipe with half of the filling ingredients.  If you wanted to make the mini-version, you would adjust the ingredients accordingly.  Clare has the recipe posted on her site.  I used about a half of a bunch of asparagus, chopped 1/4 inch.  The only thing I might do differently for next time would be to grill the asparagus before putting it into the quiche.  It was good, but I think the grilling might have added extra flavor.  And now that I have made mini-quiche, I would probably stick with the pie-size most of the time.  Especially as an entree for dinner.  When I started making them I thought that the mini-size might be good since we are trying to cut back a bit on calories, but then when I stopped to realize that there were only half the filling ingredients (with the only good-for-you things in the dish) and double the pie crust, my error was obvious.  I did use fat free half and half.  How's that for healthy?  :)

I rolled the double crust pie dough out to 1/8 of an inch, as specified in the recipe.  I used a ruler, because I have found that I don't know how thick things really are otherwise.  Especially things that are rolled out.  The recipe also called for a 3 inch round cutter to be used.  I measured mine and it was more like 2 3/4 inches but I thought it was perfect and I had exactly 24 circles without having to roll it out again.
 Kind of pull all the sides together and place in muffin tin.
It took me a few to get the hang of it and embrace the wrinkles.  After noticing that the wrinkles around the edges kind of made it prettier.  Or that's what I told myself anyway so that I could embrace it.  The first few I did (on the right) were flatter because I kind of manipulated the dough that way and pressed it flat.  They did hold more of the filling than the "pretty" ones.
 After pre-baking the pie dough at 375 for about 15 minutes, and letting it cool slightly, place a few pieces of asparagus into each shell.
 I tried using a measuring cup to pour the ingredients but settled on a measuring tablespoon.  It's hard to only pour 1/2 -1 tablespoon in with a measuring cup, especially with the cheese mixed in with the eggs and half and half.  I had some left over that I will probably use for breakfast tomorrow.  Bake for 10 minutes and then let cool for 20.

If you want to check out what everyone else made there are links to all of their sites in the tab at the top called "Bake52 Crew."  I can't wait for next week. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you heard the rumor?  It's an old one, you probably have.  The one about the lady who went to some Neiman Marcus Restaurant while shopping and got charged an insane amount of money for their cookie recipe, so she emailed it to everyone imaginable, in hopes to bring justice to her wrong doers.....  I got an email about 10 or more years ago that said something to that affect.  I believed the story, not that it mattered, and soon after made the cookies.  Why wouldn't I make them?  Double the chocolate and I am in.  They were delicious and so was the dough.  That's actually why I drug this recipe out of hiding. My mother in law was asking me about it the other day.  Remember those cookies you used to make with the grated up chocolate?  

Monday, January 2, 2012

5 1/2 layer dip

We had a little family New Year's Eve party last night (I guess since it's past midnight, it was technically the other night.)  Me, Tyler and the kiddos.  And what does a party mean?  Food!!  We had 5 1/2 layer dip, (extra pico de gallo) with chips, some chocolate chip cookies I will share at a later date (probably tomorrow) and some virgin margaritas (strawberry and plain).  The kids got to stay up until 10:30!  We played Mario Kart, watched Tron, painted toenails and fingernails (the girls, anyway) and ate, ate, ate.  I hope you guys all had a wonderful Holiday season.  I guess it's time to get back to reality although I am not looking forward to it.  

I know this dip isn't a new notion.  You have probably made it before but I like when I can take recipes I already have and turn them into something new and delicious.
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