Sunday, November 29, 2009

Orange Yogurt

I would have never thought in a million years that I could make yogurt! And coming from a person who doesn’t even like yogurt, this was really yummy. This recipe allows for a lot of culinary freedom. The recipe called for a sieve. Since I didn’t have one I decided to use my sifter instead. I figured that it was practically the same thing and that gravity would take care of everything for me and it did.

My “sieve”

The flavor of my yogurt is probably more accurately, Clementine and walnut yogurt.
"Orange" yogurt page 228

Linzer cookies

I had never heard of this type of cookie before. I have eaten it, but I didn’t know that it had such a history. Linzer cookies are traditional Australian shortbread sandwich cookies with fruit preserves in the middle. They are traditionally cut in circles with the middle missing with black currant jam so that it resembles an eye. I was unaware of this when I was making mine to look like autumn with strawberry & raspberry preserves. Either way though, I think they tasted pretty good. These cookies are my husband’s favorite Contessa cookie so far. I think I need to work on the presentation of these cookies though, because some of you have done an awesome job of presenting your Linzer cookies.

Linzer cookies page 178

Roasted brussels sprouts

We really like brussels sprouts but I had no idea that it was a winter vegetable. The night I had planned on making this, I came home from work later than I had expected but I quickly mixed the ingredients and put them in the oven with the chicken that I was making for dinner. I had dinner on the table in about 40 minutes. It was a deliciously healthy and quick meal.

Roasted brussels sprouts page 150

Broccoli with garlic

Strangely, I would recommend making the full recipe. Unlike all of Ina’s other dishes, when you half this one it doesn’t make very much. This broccoli was good but I would recommend serving it warm instead of cold.

Broccoli with garlic page 100

Lobster salad and endive

I cut this recipe in half and I’m so glad that I did because I was not a fan at all. I think my deal is that I don’t like capers and Ina uses them in a lot of her recipes. From now on if she lists capers as an ingredient I’m just going to ignore it. Though there were many ingredients, I thought that the dip was a bit bland so I added some tobassco. That still didn’t do it for me, so I ended up playing with my food like a child.

Here is the Lobster Salad with endive page 43.
I was trying to make it look like a turkey with the endive & crackers as the feathers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Linzer Cookies

I've been wanting to make these forever, but then I ran across another recipe that had these cute shaped cookies so I made half a batch of each. Kind of a lot of work with all the cutting and spreading, so I guess that's the downside of smaller cookies. I actually didn't have the right cutter so I used the letter O from my big plastic set and cut the middle out of it. Both recipes were good, but Ina's was more buttery (of course). The cream cheese recipe was tangy and different so a little hard to compare. Plus the jam takes over so much of the flavor. I never got the fun shapes to work, you really needed the right kind of star cookie cutter that I didn't have.

I used both raspberry jam and apricot because I had them in the fridge; they came out pretty cute. Another one the family will enjoy!

Cheddar Corn Chowder

I made the whole recipe of this soup and it was quite a lot. We fed 8 adults with leftovers for a couple more meals. It was definitely tasty... brothy but creamy, which my bro-in-law enjoyed, and a little sweet from the corn. The following day I threw in some frozen peas and carrots to make a veggie soup for my boys.
As always, don't forget the side of roasted Brussels sprouts!

Pecan Squares

I just couldn't get over using 2+ pounds of butter for anything. So I only made half a batch and it was still a lot of butter, and a lot of pecans.

I think a 9x13 pan would have been perfect for half a recipe. But of course I couldn't find mine when I was ready to make these. So, my attempt at making these came out looking much like a science experiment that I barely passed. I baked the dough on half a cookie sheet, then worried that the topping was going to spill out the side... then I worried that the topping would get between the crust and the pan, which she warned against, so I ended up lining it all with foil and pushing a pan against the side. It was pretty ghetto.

The topping did end up spilling out a bit, but I still ended up with a great dessert, which I cut into medium sized squares. They were so good!!

Later I decided that even my medium sized squares were too big... it felt like a real commitment to eat one. So I cut them in half and tried dipping them in melted chocolate chips. That really did take them over the top! Even my sweets-disliking husband liked them better with the chocolate and has been snacking on them all week. I know my family will love them this weekend!

Maple-Oatmeal Scones

Seems like these scones have been quite the hit on our blog.  I'd heard so many good things about them, I volunteered to make them for a baby shower a couple of weekends ago.  The recipe wasn't very difficult, just a lot of ingredients, and as usual, a lot of butter.  I burnt the first batch of scones a little on the bottom, and this was even after taking them out of the oven before the time Ina said to in the recipe.  I'd advise anyone making these to check the scones in the oven 10 minutes before Ina says to, just so you can get a good feel for how long it will take them to bake in your oven. 

Also, I was nervous to put the glaze on the scones right after baking them.  I baked them the day before the shower, and I was worried that the glaze would make the scones soggy by the time of the shower.  I was wrong; the few scones that I iced shortly after coming out of the oven weren't at all soggy by the next day.  Oh, and if you're making the scones in smaller sizes than Ina says (as I did), you may want to make extra glaze.  I ran out of glaze while icing them before the shower began.

Below is a picture of the scones amongst some of the other wonderful shower food (quiche, crepes, bread and cheese and pink cupcakes).     

And here's a close up of just the scones (thanks, Darby).

The scones were a hit at the shower; those that tried them seemed to enjoy them.  I will definitely be making these again!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maple-Oatmeal (Walnut) Scones

I made these for my family on Saturday- a bit more work on a Saturday than I like to do, but worth it! They were super yummy.

I made the whole recipe (there were 5 of us) and added chopped walnuts.

From others, I learned the the dough could be a bit sticky. I made sure I had all of the mixtures ready (wet and dry) and the butter was really cold before mixing it all together. My dough was a bit sticky, but when I rolled it out on the floured board, it was perfect.
We loved the topping and agreed that they needed that little bit of sweet.

Homemade Applesauce

Brayden's Paw Paw made him this recipe for breakfast on Saturday. (Really my dad just wanted to use our very cool apple corer/slicer/peeler). Very handy for recipes like this and apple pie- We also found the pieces it cuts are PERFECT for Brayden to eat.

I used 3 Golden Delicious and 3 Winesap apples. This was probably about 1/3 of the recipe.

It was not nearly sweet enough for us. Brayden wouldn't even eat it! Next time, we will use all red apples and add a bit more sugar.

I will agree that it makes your house smell amazing!

Crab Cakes

I planned on doing 4 recipes last week because I knew Thanksgiving week would be crazy! But, only got 3 of them accomplished :)

I made crab cakes with grilled asparagus last week. I was reluctant to buy the crab meat and even (gasp) thought about using imitation crab meat- but I found an 8 0z. container of Kroger brand meal crab meat on sale for $7.99 so I splurged!

I had remembered reading from a couple of you that the crab cakes were very moist and didn't stay together very well. To cope with that, I doubled the amount of crab cakes in the mix and patted each crab cake with bread crumbs before putting them in the pan. Ours stayed together very nicely!

Another hint I will do next time is to drain the cooked veggie mix before you put it in the crab mix. I don't think it needed the extra liquid.

Also, make sure your oil is VERY hot before putting the crab cake in.

I love remoulade sauce (from Pappas Seafood Restaurant), so I gave this one a try. It was okay- Danny even ate a little of it. It could be that the pickles I used were dill hamburger slices (hey- it's what I had at home) Brayden loved what little I gave him, mainly because he was getting to dip something :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


(Yes, this is 3 posts in one day... so I'm behind...)

Long, long ago I wrote "tahini" on my grocery list (see hummus, for those of you who, like me, have not yet ventured beyond the safety of the more familiar), but I have yet to make the trek to Phoenicia or convince myself that $8 on a jar of the sesame puree was worth it... So I opted this week to go for an appetizer that I was willing to buy the ingredients for: guacamole!

I usually like my guacamole smashed up to smithereens, but, in keeping with the "try something new idea" of this cookbook, I kept large chunks of the avacado. I halved the recipe, and I think I might've added a little too much lemon. I did use freshly squeezed lemon juice, so maybe that just made the flavor stronger. The tabasco gives it an interesting flavor... I think I'm more of a traditional guac person, but it was good. I took it to Bible study and it disappeared.

Oh - and, it's gluten free!

Maple Oatmeal Scones

"What is that for?"


"There's that much butter in scones?? That's disgusting. I don't want any scones."

Yes, my husband had discovered what nearly every other blogger has already posted about - the enormous and somewhat ungodly amounts of butter in Ina's recipes. My co-workers loved them, however. At least, I received plenty of compliments. I made the full recipe and had leftovers, even after Fat Friday, but I think that had more to do with the amount of food at Fat Friday rather than the scones themselves... I brought them to the next gathering of teachers and had a friend ask for the recipe. I told her about the blog and cookbook project and said I could give her the recipe... but she wouldn't like it.

"What do you mean? They taste great! I love the maple."

"Well, they're not great for you."

I said she could probably try substituting other things for some of the butter...

I did find the dough very sticky. I couldn't cut shapes or circles or anything with the gloopy mess, so I scooped it onto the parchment paper with a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Then I sliced the oddly formed circular blobs, once cooked, into fourths to serve. My unenthusiastic husband said that they looked like oatmeal cookies. They did, a little. The other complaint was that they were dry, but I explained that scones are usually dry. I thought the glaze helped a lot with the dryness and made them quite edible. He refused to have more than a 1/4 of one, suggesting that if I didn't make so many recipes from this book, we wouldn't run out of butter so fast.

Croissant Bread Pudding

I'm not sure how it came about, but one of the best traditions at my school is "Fat Friday." Every month on the last Friday of the month a grade level group or groups host a school-wide staff breakfast. The expectation is that there is food for more than 100 people to eat - twice. I never bring a lunch on Fat Fridays. I was excited about our grade level hosting "Fat Friday" because it gave me an excuse to make some recipes from the book and not be stuck with the full portions!

This was back in October, but I still remember my frustations and troubles with this recipe. It actually turned out marvelous, but while I was making it I was about ready to give up. I kept thinking of the mantra that I, as a teacher, have used many times with my students - "Read the instructions before you start!" So I figured out while making the pudding that I had to have two pans! And one with water in it?? So one had to bigger than the other, but I just used my biggest pan... then I learned about water displacement and volume and weight of pans+water+pudding and only having two hands...

And yet...

Ta-da! And it tasted delicious. I might've added more sugar than the recipe said. Because, while I struggling with the multiple pan concept and not-reading-the-recipe-ahead-of-time, I stopped and read the blog. She can be taught! I did have to mop up a lot of water off the floor, though.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Szechuan Sauce

I only had 3 lemons so I had to pick off a bunch of fruit from our calamondin bushes... they're like lemons with an orange flavor.

Maybe my mistake was marinating overnight, but this chicken just wasn't all the great. It also took forever to grill because I had thick fillets, and I grilled them inside on a griddle on low heat for fear they would burn before the insides got cooked. We ended up slicing them lengthwise to cook the inside. They were very lemony but kinda dry. I think it was my fault, based on the other stellar reviews. Since I was serving it with the szechuan noodles, and the sauces were so similar, I just used some extra szechuan sauce instead of making the satay. That worked well.

Szechuan Noodles

This turned out to be a simple recipe once I had the ingredients all in one place. I pre-made the sauce, like she recommended, and chopped my veggies the day before so all I had to do was cook the pasta and throw everything together. The hardest part was probably tossing the pound of hot pasta with the sauce... I guess I just don't own good pasta tossers. The sauce had a lot going on, in a good way, and got great reviews from all tasters, including one of our fearless leaders, Carissa :)

Cranberry Harvest Muffins

I tried the muffins this past weekend... I couldn't find hazelnuts so substituted walnuts, and halved the recipe. Turns out cranberries are hard to coarsely chop because they roll around like crazy. I just quartered each and every one of them and it took quite some time. At least they were pretty to look at.

I was quite particular about halving the recipe, so I don't know what went wrong. But in the end the batter was too wet and they just spread everywhere. When they came out of the pans they were so moist lots of them fell apart. But besides the presentation, they tasted great. The figs made them really interesting; the 1/4 cup it called for amounted to 3 figs and I would add more next time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

White Bean Soup

I forgot the rosemary and it still came out fine, I just added some dried Thyme instead. This soup was good, but I did a few changes to make it that way...first I never found dried cannellini beans I bought them canned. I discovered that I wasn't that crazy about the texture, they are basically white kidney beans which have a dried texture, not a buttery one like a navy bean. Julia was smart to use navy beans.

So, I used my emulsion blender (see below)and pureed all the cannellini beans, then added canned white navy beans. This gave it a better texture. It would be a fast "pantry meal" as I like to call it since you could keep everything on hand in the pantry. I will definitely make it again with all navy beans though. It keeps for a bit in the fridge too...I just ate my last bowl for lunch, and I think it was been in the fridge for 5 days or so!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raspberry Tart

This tart was simple yet fancy. I've got an 11" round tart pan so I made 1.5x the dough recipe, which was a little too much, but still came out great. I took Ina's advice and let my guests top the tart with the raspberries.

My only problem was that we didn't end up getting to eat it! I think my guests were still overwhelmed with the caviar and we never made it to the tart before everyone was ready to go home. So last night my husband and I sliced ourselves big yummy slices while we cozied around the laptop for some re-runs. I am one who likes almost everything, including and especially desserts, but my husband doesn't tend to like sweets. Surprisingly, he really thought this one was great - not too sweet, and the fresh, watery raspberries complimented the buttery crust nicely. We even had more for breakfast. Only thing is to make sure you serve it at room temp if you make it ahead. It was definitely tastier, plus it was easier to cut.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Well, after several not so great reviews of the butternut squash, I was hesitant to try it, but it was on sale today at Kroger so I gave it a whirl. I bought a tiny one that was probably not even 1.5 lbs. The smaller size must have made for easier chopping cuz I didn't have any problem cutting it up. I diced it into 1/2 in cubes thinking this would give me more flavor per bite. They roasted really quickly too. I halved her ingredient amounts since she asks for 5 lbs of squash. Oh, and I sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top of them before roasting. The result?
I was prepared to not like them, but was pleasantly surprised that I did like them. They were almost dessert tasting with all the sugar and cinnamon, but hey I'm eating a veggie that I wasn't eating before, that has to account for something.
Actually they tasted like a sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving.
So I say try it if you haven't.

Lemon Capellini with Caviar

Well, I looked at this recipe and thought the pasta sounded great, and figured I would just leave off the caviar. But rethinking it, this book is supposed to get us to try new things, right? So I hunted all over town and ended up at Ranch 99 Market (or whatever it's called) there on I-10 at Blalock where the big Fiesta used to be. It was the only place I found fresh caviar, and it was the cheapest I found it anywhere. It was "Japanese flying fish roe" which appears to be sushi-grade caviar.

See how the caviar is pushed waaaay over to the side like I was trying to avoid it? That was what everyone's plate looked like. The consensus was that the pasta was lemony and fantastic (with all the butter it had I knew it would be a winner) but the caviar was just weird. The texture was so difficult to handle, let alone the taste. If you mixed it into the pasta it was easier to eat. But I would avoid the caviar altogether unless you're willing to shell out some big bucks (even for the "best quality for your money"). I will make the pasta again, and probably top it with shrimp sautéed in garlic.

Beets with Orange Vinaigrette

These beets were not as repulsive as my father-in-law (Janice's husband) made them out to be!! I used balsamic vinegar, and my orange segments kinda disappeared into it all, but I thought they tasted pretty good. Maybe I came into it with no preconceived ideas of what beets should taste like, but it made me want to experiment with beets more. I may come back to this recipe, but not before I try out several other recipes first.

When I chopped the tops off my beets I felt vaguely certain that people eat beet greens.. so I sautéed them in in butter with some garlic and they were so very tasty (if you like greens of course). They tasted similar to mustard greens but had the cool looking red veins so they felt fancy!

Broccoli with Garlic

I don't usually do much to my broccoli so this recipe was a nice change of pace. I loved the cloves of garlic and left them all in the salad (instead of only some like she said). The crushed red pepper added more of a kick than I was expecting but since this was for adults we all liked it. I liked it better at room temp than I did cold.

Rosemary White Bean Soup

This soup was super easy, especially since we have an immersion blender so I didn't have to make any transfers. I looked at the cannellini beans that HEB sold for around $9/lb and on the package it said something like "use interchangeably with other white beans" so I used the $1 bag of great northern beans instead. My husband loved it (though by his second bowl was dripping hot sauce all over it). My guests loved the rosemary flavor; it was really nice.

Roasted Eggplant Spread

Funny, now that I type it in I realize this wasn't a dip so much as a spread. That's exactly what my husband thought of it, when I served it as a dip with crackers. He said it was good but he thought it would be more appropriate on a sandwich, like a muffaletta. Or with pita bread like she said.

The veggies roasted quite nicely and since I'm obsessed with eggplant, I loved it! It was creamy and flavorful, and I can't wait to use the rest. However, I noticed that my dinner guests didn't eat much of it, so it might just be for veggie lovers like me and my husband.

I also roasted some Brussels sprouts (for like the billionth time) and set them out as appetizers, so that the sprout-haters didn't have to turn them down at meal time, or feel bad that they didn't finish their plate. But all my guests tasted them and agreed that they were amazing (one girl actually said "these are amazing!!"). I cannot say enough about the roasted Brussels sprouts.

Orange Yogurt

I think I made one thing from every section in the book in the past two days, so be warned!

This orange yogurt was great. I used one paper towel to strain because I couldn't find my cheesecloth (turns out my husband had it in his tool box ???). The paper towel worked fine for me; I got over a cup and a half of liquid out in the first two hours!

I used plain nonfat yogurt. I added everything but the honey until after my boys got their fill... they begged and begged for more! Using freshly squeezed orange juice gave it a lot of sweetness. Then I added the honey for me and I thought I was eating dessert!
My only issue with the recipe is the straining of the liquid... I looked it up and yogurt whey contains lots of the nutrients in yogurt. I probably won't make this for my kids, when I'm trying to reap all the benefits of yogurt. But it was surprisingly tasty and I will make it again as a treat.

Roasted Veggies

Ina seems to have several recipes for roasted veggies in her book. The are all about the same method, just different cooking times. I did asparagus and zucchini. They were both very yummy. I think I will be roasting alot more veggies in the future, the flavor is something you can't get from a fast saute' in a skillet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Amazing Orange Yogurt

This was SO fun to make. But the trick here is that you need to use cheesecloth in the strainer to put your yogurt in. Evidently that is very important. I know Carissa tried it without the cheesecloth and did not get much water extracted. However, when I tried it with the cheesecloth, I extracted a good cup of liquid---so much, in fact, that I could pick the yogurt up with my hands! It was like holding barely soft butter. If my husband had of been home, I would have got him to take a picture of me holding the yogurt, it was so interesting!

I added 1 cup orange juice and the zest and honey to my stiff yogurt—which put it back to the consistancy of the original yogurt. I later wished I had only added ½ cup juice, just to have a firmer yogurt. But it was very tasty. I used the yogurt I made as a topping on a peach crisp, and it was delicious. The rest I ate for breakfast with some granola.
I love this idea with yogurt and will make it often I think.

Beets with Orange Vinaigrette (Beets me why Ina likes these...)

I made this recipe because my husband has wanted beets for years and years, and I would not buy them. But being the nice wife I am, I decided if Ina thought beets were worthy of eating, maybe I should fix them for hubby as a treat. I hunted down, going to 2 grocery stores, and bought one beet—that is all I had the never to fix.

Well, beets are very messy things to work with and to eat. I think this must be where some type of red/fuchsia dye comes from. My hands were stained for most of the day after peeling my simmered beet. I made the salad and put it in the fridge to sit a day and become wonderful. My husband quietly ate a good helping of this beet salad, and I ate a bit, and then asked him what he thought. His only comment was not to make them again. I guess the wonderful part did not happen….and if a beet lover says that, well….what can I add to that?

Outrageous Brownies

And they were! Of course, I substituted a bit with ingredients I already had.

I used Milk Chocolate chips instead of semi sweet choc chips
I used 4 ounces semi sweet choc and 2 ounces unsweetened instead of 6 ounces unsweetened
I also put 1 extra tablespoon of vanilla in (because we like it!)
Here is my makeshift double boiler filled with 1 pound of butter and the chocolate! It took a while to melt it all.

All in all the techniques were pretty easy. It took a bit more time than I had anticipated.
I don't have a picture of the finished product, because they burned! This was the first baked good I cooked in my new oven and I only cooked the brownies for 20 minutes and they burned. Well, the bottoms burned. My family said they still tasted good, they still had a good consistency (almost like a cake brownie).
My hubby said he liked them but he still preferred our Hershey's box brownies from SAMS :)