Welcome to my Food Blog!

Welcome! My name is Anne, aka ThePharmGirl. In 2010, I successfully made 100 recipes as a New Year's Resolution to expand my culinary repertoire and cooking skills beyond the frozen microwave dinner. This blog is a continuation of my culinary journey and serves as my personal virtual recipe box. Sometimes I like to have fun-- Check out my Muppet Mania Menu, The 12 Days of Christmas, and my Musical-themed recipes.

My current mission(s) for 2017:
* Use the Spiralizer at least once per week for healthy veggie-rich meals
* Continue to spin from the Wheel of Meals for recipe inspiration

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla

Some people asked what I was making for the big Packers-Bears playoff game today.   I figured I should do something cheeeeesy to support the Pack.   But I also needed my lunch to be somewhat healthy and not break the calorie bank.    I received a Quesadilla maker for Christmas and I've been wanting to try out, and this was the perfect opportunity...

Anne's Game Day Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla
 

Ingredients:
2 whole wheat 10" tortillas
1 grilled chicken breast, cooked and cut in pieces
~1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
~1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
~1/2 cup red onion, chopped
~1/2 cup tomato, chopped
~1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
~1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
lime juice
ground cumin
ground black pepper
chili powder

Directions:
Mix all the veggies and bacon in a bowl.  Toss with herbs and lime juice.
Spread half the shredded cheese on a tortilla.  Top with chicken and veggie mixture.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the veggies and top with the other tortilla.  Press down to flatten and place on preheated quesadilla maker.  Cook for ~4 minutes until cheese is melted and tortilla is browned.  Cut into 6 wedges to serve.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Muffins!

Now that my internet is fixed, I'm back to post some recipes!  Here are two muffin recipes that I made for an extended family brunch last weekend.  The Blueberry Muffins were exceptional according my mom, and I agreed.  They were REALLY good.  I've made the White Chocolate-Raspberry Muffins in the past, but I'll post the recipe again anyway.  Those are really good too if you like white chocolate and raspberries (and who doesn't??).   If family members are reading this and you're wondering about the mini glazed lemon-poppyseed muffins that seemed to vanish the quickest.... Ummm, those were from a box mix, so thank Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines.  But here are the homemade muffins...   

**********

The Best Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients:
1&1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1&1/2 cups fresh blueberries
   Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Directions:
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add in vegetable oil, egg, milk, and sour cream and stir until moistened.  Fold in blueberries.  Fill muffin cups and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.   To make crumb topping, mix all ingredients with a fork until crumbly.  Bake muffins for ~15 minutes at 400º or until done.

 *****************

White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins
Ingredients:
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2&1/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half cream
1 cup chopped white chips
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions:
In a small bowl, toss raspberries with 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.  In a large bowl, cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and extracts.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with cream, until just moistened.  Stir in chips and raspberries.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.  Combine brown sugar and remaining sugar; sprinkle over batter.  Bake at 375º for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.  Serve warm.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Twelfth Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the twelfth day of Christmas, for my true love, I cooked...

~ Twelve Drummers Drumming ~


 Anne presents...


 Timpano Di Maccheroni (Pasta Timpani)
and
Dobos Torte (Hungarian Drum Cake)






For 12 Drummers Drumming, the very last day in my little collection, I wanted to do something spectacular as a grand finale.  Have you seen the movie Big Night with Stanley Tucci and Tony Schalub?  If you have, you probably remember the huge Timpano that they brought out at the restaurant. It's a drum-shaped pasta concoction of epic proportions.  Just google search "timpano recipe" and you'll see what I mean.  I made up my own timpani ingredients based on what I had in my kitchen.  I was thrilled that it actually turned out and didn't fall apart.  And it tasted great too.  :)

Next, I decided to make a drum dessert.  The word "dobos" means "like a drum" in Hungarian.  But this cake is actually named after Hungarian pastry chef Josef Dobos, who invented it in 1884 and first introduced it at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885.  It became a big hit in Europe.  Dobos Torte is a multi-layer sponge cake, layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with thin caramel slices.    This cake was just "okay" for me, especially considering the amount of time it took to bake each individual layer.  I thought it had too much chocolate frosting. 

Anne's Fun Fact:

Cost of 12 Drummers Drumming (2010 Christmas Price Index) =$2,553

******************
Recipes:

Anne's Timpano 


Ingredients:
puff pastry sheets (yes, I cheated and didn't make my own dough)
1 egg white
elbow macaroni noodles
penne noodles
meatballs, cooked
veggie spaghetti sauce
basil
oregano
shredded mozzarella cheese
ricotta cheese
frozen chopped spinach, thawed and patted dry


Directions:
Cook the pasta very al dente, allowing for the fact it will continue to cook when baking. Drain, and mix with a good helping of the sauce.  Sprinkle in some basil and oregano and mix well.

Preheat oven to 375º F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out very thinly in a large circle. Carefully place the dough into a greased 12 inch springform pan, oven-proof glass bowl, or casserole dish,  letting the excess dough hang over the sides. Spoon some of the the sauced pasta into the bowl. Add another scoopful of sauce, and layer the meatballs and mozzarella on top of the first layer of pasta. Spoon more pasta into the pan. Spread a layer of ricotta cheese and spinach.  Top with more pasta, sausage, and mozzarella.  Add a final layer of pasta. Carefully fold the dough over the top, sealing it with your fingers. Make a wash with the egg white and a little water, and brush this over the pastry. Bake the timpano for 45 minutes until browned. Let rest 5 minutes before removing it from the pan. Invert it onto a decorative platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the timpano into wedges to serve your guests.
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Dobos Torte (Hungarian Drum Cake)


Ingredients:
9 egg whites
8 egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon shortening
1 cup white sugar
Chocolate Buttercream:
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
3-4 tablespoons milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Have ready two 10 inch cardboard circles. Generously grease a 9 inch springform pan or a 8-9" round cake pan with soft butter, and dust with flour.
  2. Beat the egg whites until frothy, and gradually add 1 cup sugar. Beat just to soft peaks. In another bowl, beat the yolks with the milk, lemon peel, vanilla, and salt. Fold this into the egg whites. Sift the flour over the egg mixture, and fold in.
  3. Spread 1&1/3 cups batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 5 to 9 minutes, or until small, brown spots begin to appear on cake. Remove the cake from the oven, and remove layer from pan with a spatula. Dust the cake lightly with flour, and place on a rack to cool. Grease pan again, and repeat this process until all of the batter is used, about 6 times more. Place the layers between wax paper, and cover with a towel. Chill layers for a few hours. Make the Chocolate Buttercream. 
  4. To make Chocolate Buttercream:  In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add chocolate and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add more chocolate for darker chocolate color.  Add more milk for thinner consistency.  Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.
  5. Layer the chilled layers on one of the cardboard rounds with the buttercream. Start with one layer; cover with the buttercream, and then press down with another layer to make a good seal. Repeat this with the remaining layers, but reserve one layer. Wrap the cake in plastic, and chill for at least 6 hours along with the remaining buttercream. Grease the other cardboard round with the shortening, and place the last layer on it.
  6. Place 1 cup sugar into a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Allow sugar to cook until the edges look melted and brown. Begin stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook until the sugar become an amber color, and is smooth. Carefully pour the caramel over the top of the last layer, and spread to the edges with an oiled knife. Quickly, using an oiled knife, indent the top of the caramel into 16 wedges. Allow to cool slightly, and then retouch the indents with the knife again. Place layer onto a counter top dusted with sugar, and allow the caramel to cool completely.
  7. Place some more buttercream on top of the chilled torte, and top with the caramel round. Frost the sides with the remaining buttercream. Chill the torte before serving. 
 
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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Eleventh Day of Christmas Recipe

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the eleventh day of Christmas, for my lady friends, I cooked...

~ Eleven Pipers Piping ~


 Anne presents...

Zucchini Flutes with Piped Basil Mousse,
and Pistachio-Cheese Pipes


This was a little break for me... just two easy appetizers.  I met with some lady friends for a little Christmas get-together, and we all brought appetizers.  These two recipes were my contribution.  The Basil-Ricotta Zucchini Flutes were really, really good which surprised me because I'm not normally a fan of ricotta cheese. The ladies all seemed to like them as well.  The Pistachio Cheese Pipes were kinda weird.  I found a recipe online, and strayed from it quite a bit by adding raspberries and using cream cheese instead of taleggio cheese, whatever that is.  I didn't know how cream cheese, raspberries, and pistachios could go wrong, but it did.

Anne's Fun Facts:

Cost of 11 Pipers Piping (2010 Christmas Price Index) =$2,354.00

The 11 Pipers were traditionally playing bagpipes as part of the celebration with the dancers.

*****************************

Recipes:

Zucchini Flutes with Piped Basil-Ricotta Mousse
12 servings;  ~50 calories/serving


Ingredients:
6  small zucchini
Cooking spray
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 cup (8 oz) low-fat Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2  tablespoons  hot water
1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
Parsley sprigs (optional)
Directions:
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Reserve pulp for another use. Arrange zucchini shells in a single layer in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine basil and next 7 ingredients (through pepper), stirring well with a whisk.  Pipe mixture evenly among shells, pressing gently. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

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Pistachio-Cheese Pipes

Original recipe:
1&1/4 cups taleggio cheese, chopped
3/4 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
3 tablespoons milk
phyllo dough

Melt the taleggio over low heat, add pistachios and milk.  Mix until smooth, then remove from heat.  Cut out 24 3" squares of phyllo dough.  Spread a thick bar of filling on one end of phyllo, then roll up.  Bake at 375º until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.

Anne's recipe (not very good):
pistachios, shelled and chopped
cream cheese
raspberries
phyllo dough

I mixed everything together, and spread the mixture onto the phyllo and rolled up.  Baked for 5 minutes.  Tasted weird.

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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tenth Day of Christmas Recipe

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the tenth day of Christmas, for my true love, I cooked...

~ Ten Lords a-Leaping ~


 Anne presents...

Capering Baron of Beef au jus,
Trinidad Hops Bread, 
and Grasshopper Pie

 




I thought up this double-meaning main course recipe myself.  In case you don't "get it", here is the simple explanation in the form of definitions:

to Caper (verb): to LEAP or prance about in a playful manner 

Caper (noun):  one of the greenish flower buds or young berries of the caper shrub pickled and used as a seasoning or garnish 

Baron of Beef:   A Baron of Beef is alleged to have originated when Henry VIII was served a spit-roasted double sirloin of beef and was so thrilled with the roast that he dubbed it Sir Loin, the Baron of Beef. Whether this is true or not, the term has come to refer to the very large joint of beef that includes the loins and both legs.  Baron of Beef is a British term, but in the U.S. the designation has come to be synonymous with any cut of beef that it well suited to roasting or braising such as top round, inside round, bottom round or the steamship round.  This casual meaning apparently annoys the British.

Trinidad Hops Bread:   Hops Bread is a very common bread made in Trinidad and Tobago.  Despite its name, it is NOT made with hops.

Grasshopper Pie:  Not made with grasshoppers.

Anne's Fun Facts:
Cost of 10 Lords a Leaping (2010 Christmas Price Index) =$4,767 

The ten lords a-leaping most likely refers to leaping dancers (called morris dancers) who performed leaping dances between courses at feasts.  This type of wild and strenuous dancing probably evolved from more ancient war and fertility dances and would have been a popular form of entertainment for this type of function.

Morris dancing itself was a popular form of folk dancing in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and possibly earlier. Both King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I had professional Morris Dance Troupes perform as part of the entertainment at feasts.

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Recipes:
Mustard and Thyme Baron of Beef with Dijon-Caper Sauce
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
3-pound top round roast (baron-of-beef roast)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
2 teaspoons dried thyme
black pepper
3 cups beef broth, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
 2 tablespoons drained capers

Directions:
Rub the roast all over with oil, then brush the top and sides of the roast with 2 tablespoons of the mustard and sprinkle with thyme and pepper.  Place in a roasting pan and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

The next day, remove the plastic wrap and let the roast sit at room temperature for an hour or two to relax the meat fibers so that you get a juicy roast.  Pour 1 cup of beef broth into the roasting pan.  Roast, uncovered, at 450º for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat and roast at 325º until done as desired.  For medium-rare, roast 60 minutes; for medium, roast 70 minutes; for medium-well, roast 80 minutes.   When done, remove from oven and tent with foil to prevent from drying out.

 To make the Jus, drain the juices from the roasting pan into a large skillet, scraping the browned bits into the skillet too.  Cook over medium-heat high.  Add butter; stir until melted.  Add flour; whisk until smooth.  Gradually whisk in remaining broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer until sauce is reduced to 1&1/2 cups, about 6 minutes, whisking often.   Whisk in capers and remaining 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard.  Season with ground pepper.

Cut beef crosswise into very thin slices.  Serve on plate with sauce. 

 ********************************
Trinidad Hops Bread
 Makes 12-14 hops


Ingredients:
1 package dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
2&1/2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1&1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Pour warm water into a large bowl Dissolve sugar in water Dissolve yeast over sugar and water and allow to develop for 10 minutes.  Stir yeast mixture with a fork and add melted butter. Gradually stir in flour and salt.  Knead for 8 to 10 minutes adding flour if necessary to make a medium stiff dough.  Grease bowl and top of dough with cooking spray, cover and allow to rest for 20-25 minutes. Punch down dough, form in balls, and place on greased baking sheets.  Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled (1–1.5 hours).  Bake in a 400ºF oven for about 15 minutes.
 
********************************
Grasshopper Pie

Ingredients:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
15 drops green food coloring
24 chocolate-covered mint cookies, divided
2 cups whipped topping
1 chocolate crumb crust (9 inches)
Directions:
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk until smooth. Beat in the food coloring. Coarsely crush 16 cookies; stir into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into the crust. Cover and freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining cookies.

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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ninth Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the ninth day of Christmas, for myself, I cooked...

~ Nine Ladies Dancing ~


 Anne presents...

Eggs Flamenco,
Ladyfingers doing the Salsa,
& Tennessee Waltz Drink



  
When I first began conceptualizing Nine Ladies Dancing, I knew I wanted to do something relating to dance, salsa being the first and most obvious thought.  I started mentally thinking about other dance types, and I considered doing a play on meringue/merengue, but when I typed "flamenco recipe" into google...viola!  Eggs Flamenco, or Huevos Flamencos, is a very old and traditional Spanish dish.  Perfect!  I stayed very true to the recipe and it tasted great.  Not too spicy.  You can't tell from the picture, but the entire underside of the egg and chorizo slices was all vegetable-based.  I then made homemade ladyfingers and made a fruit salsa to pair with it using strawberries, raspberries, and kiwi fruit.  My ladyfingers turned out quite nicely!  And lastly, I found the Tennessee Waltz Drink, which was perfect because I still had some Peach Schnapps left from my Muppet party.  It was yummy.

Anne's Fun Facts:

Cost of 9 Ladies Dancing (2010 Christmas Price Index) =$6,273.00 
(The most expensive item in 2010.  Must be high-quality dancers.) 

Flamenco is a style of music and dance that originated in regions of southern Spain, perhaps in the late 18th century or earlier. The flamenco dance is known for its emotional intensity, expressive use of the arms, and rhythmic stamping of the feet.  It is characterized by a proud, upright carriage - for the women, the back is often held in a marked back bend. 

Salsa is a syncretic dance form with origins in Cuba in the 1920's as the original American meeting point of European and African cultures. The current method of Salsa dancing contains movement elements from a variety of dance genres including traditional  mambo, guaguanco, swing, and hustle. 

The Waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in 3/4 time, performed primarily in closed position.  "The Tennessee Waltz" is a country music song.  It was first recorded by Cowboy Copas in 1947 then later popularized by Patti Page and by Les Paul and Mary Ford in 1950.  The popularity of this song also made it the fourth official song of the state of Tennessee in 1965.


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Recipes:

Eggs Flamenco
2 servings

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 oz Spanish chorizo sausage (2 links), sliced 1/2"-thick
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 garlic cloved, minced
1/2 red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 green pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 can (4 oz) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2-4 large eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Directions:
 Heat oil in a large skillet and fry the sausage.  Remove sausage and set aside.   In the same pan, saute the onions, garlic, and peppers.  Add the tomato sauce, paprika, and sherry; simmer and let reduce.

Divide the tomato-pepper mixture between two cazuelas or two 6" diameter flat clay or ceramic oven-proof dishes.  Arrange the pieces of chorizo on top.  Break one or two eggs on top of each dish.  Bake in 350º oven about 10-15 minutes or so, until egg whites are cooked.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parmesan and chives.

****************

Ladyfingers with Fruit Salsa
Makes ~24 ladyfingers;  25 calories each (without salsa)

Ingredients:
2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup white granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Fruit salsa:
strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, orange juice, combined in food processor
Directions:
Place egg whites in bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form.  Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy.  In another bowl, beat egg yolks, almond extract, and remaining sugar.  Whip until thick and very pale in color.  Fold half the egg whites unto the egg yolk mixture.  Sift flour and baking powder together and fold into yolk-white mixture.  Fold in the remaining egg whites.  Transfer mixture to a pastry bag and pipe out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 400º for 8 minutes.   Serve with fruit salsa if desired.

*****************
Tennessee Waltz Drink

Ingredients:
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
4 oz. Vanilla Ice Cream
1 &1/4 oz. Peach Schnapps
1 oz. Passion Fruit Juice
Whipped cream (optional)
Strawberry (optional)

Directions: 
Blend ingredients until smooth, pour into parfait glass, and garnish with whipped cream and a strawberry.

**************************************
Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Eighth Day of Christmas Recipe

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the eighth day of Christmas, for my true love, I cooked...

~ Eight Maids a-Milking ~


 Anne presents...

Swiss Miss Cocoa Milkshake
and
4-Cheese Baked Macaroni



Although it's the least expensive item in the song in today's world, eight maids a-milking were a valuable gift in olden times.  In the old days, they didn't have good refrigeration to store fresh milk; it would sour and go bad.  So, in both England and France, cheese became an important milk product that provided food over the long winters.  

Mmmm cheese.  As my family knows, I am a sucker for mac and cheese.  Of all the 12 days, my grocery bill came closest to matching the actual cost of the item in the Christmas song, mostly because of the special cheeses I had to buy.  Jeremy and I grated a LOT of cheese for this recipe.  We weren't sure if we would like the taste of the cheeses it called for, but I was really happy with the final combination after it was baked.  It was gooey and delicious!  And it made a LOT of leftovers, which I've been enjoying the past few days.

If a maid in Switzerland milked a cow by hand...you'd get a Swiss miss milk shake. hahaha.  The Swiss Miss Cocoa Milkshake was a Hungry Girl recipe.  It was good, but not outstanding.  That's because it was a diet shake and used ice and water instead of milk. But it did have ice cream at least.  Still, for the calorie reduction, it was pretty tasty and I'd make it again.

Anne's Fun Facts:

Cost of 8 Maids a-Milking (2010 Christmas Price Index) =$7.25/maid = $58

Calories in a 24-oz Milkshake from Jack-In-The-Box = 1,230 calories
Calories in a 24-oz Swiss Miss Milkshake                    = 206 calories

Yawning for the Chesire Cheese... In 18th century England, they played a game on Christmas night called "Yawning for the Chesire Cheese."  It was a yawning contest to see who could produce the widest and longest yawn.   The winner won the cheese.

Be very careful if a man asks you to go a-milking!!  In the 18th century, when a maiden was asked to "go a-milking" it had one of two meanings.  Either it was a proposal of marriage;  or, it was a rather risque invitation for intimacy.  I wonder how the girls knew which intention was meant??   That could be scandalous!

It's no use crying over spilt milk.  This phrase can be traced all the way back to 1659, appearing as a proverb in James Howell's Paroimiografia.

********

Recipes:

4-Cheese Baked Macaroni
Recipe slightly altered from Food Network Channel's Emeril Lagasse
Makes: 6 Servings  (seemed like it made more than that)

Ingredients:
7 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon Red Hot Sauce
8 &1/2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (~2 cups)
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
8 ounces grated Cheddar cheese
4 ounces grated Fontina cheese
4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
In a heavy medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half and half little by little. Cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, season with the salt, pepper, hot sauce and 4 ounces of the grated parmesan. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Cover and set aside.


Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste and, while stirring, add the macaroni. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until macaroni is al dente (slightly undercooked).  Drain in a colander and return the macaroni to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the garlic and stir to combine. Add the bechamel sauce and stir until well combined. Set aside.


In a large bowl, combine the cheddar, fontina, gruyere, and 4 ounces of the remaining parmesan cheese. Toss to combine.

Using the remaining tablespoon of butter, grease a 3-quart baking dish.  Place one-third of the macaroni in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with one-third of the mixed cheeses. Top with another third of the macaroni and another third of the cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese mixture.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, remaining 1/2 ounce of grated parmesan, and the cayenne pepper, and toss to combine. Sprinkle this over the top of the macaroni and cheese.

Bake at 350º for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and hot and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

*************

Swiss Miss Cocoa Milkshake
Makes one 24-oz shake or two 12-ounce shakes
Calories: 206 (for a 24-oz shake without whipped cream)


Ingredients:
3/4 cup Slow-Churned Reduced-Fat Chocolate Ice Cream
1 25-calorie packet of Swiss Miss Diet Hot Cocoa Mix
1&1/2 tablespoons Hershey's Lite Chocolate Syrup
2 Splenda packets
hot water and cold water
2 cups crushed iced
Fat-free Reddi-whip (optional) 
maraschino cherry (optional)

Directions:
Dissolve cocoa mix and Splenda into 2 ounces of hot water, mixing well.  Add syrup and 6 ounces of cold water and stir.  Place crushed ice and ice cream in a blender.  Top with liquid mixture.  Blend at low to medium speed until shake is thoroughly mixed but not liquified.  Pour into a tall glass and top with whipped cream and cherry if desired.  Straw recommended.


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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Seventh Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the seventh day of Christmas, for my true love, I cooked...

~ Seven Swans a-Swimming ~


 Anne presents...

Seared Duck Breast Swimming in Orange Sauce
and
Swan Cream Puffs Swimming in Chocolate



Cooking an actual swan was out of the question, so I decided to substitute a duck dish for my main course.  Actually, I'm not that far off.  Swans are the largest member of the duck family.  I was going for elegance with this dish, and I think I somewhat achieved it.  Overall, the flavor was good.  I really liked the orange sauce.

When I was researching "swan recipes" on google, I saw the swan cream puffs, and I knew I HAD to make them!  I was really happy with how they turned out, both visually and taste-wise.  I can't believe I managed to get them to look as good as (or even better than!) the picture on the website I found.  I added my own twist and presented them "swimming" in a chocolate sauce which made them taste like eclairs.  Yummy! 

Anne's Fun Facts:

Cost of 7 Swans a-Swimming (2010 Christmas Price Index) = $5,600

Did you know?  The Trumpeter Swan is the largest native species of waterfowl in North America.

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Recipes

Duck a l'Orange
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1&1/2 orange juice
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1&1/2 cups chicken stock
2 oranges, sections cut from membranes
2 duck breast halves, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons orange zest

Directions:
Boil the sugar and water for several minutes until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden brown color.  Add the vinegar, juice, shallots, and chicken stock and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a little less than a cup.  Add butter and 1 tablespoon of orange zest.  Stir in orange sections.

In a skillet, sear the duck breast over high heat.  Cook the duck for 7-10 minutes on each side.  Pour the prepared sauce over the duck breasts and garnish with the remaining orange zest.

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Swan Cream Puffs
Makes: ~24 swans

Ingredients:
1/2 c butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 c water
1 c flour
4 eggs
1 package instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1 cup Cool Whip
confectioners' sugar (optional)
chocolate syrup (optional)

Directions:
Make pudding according to directions on box using 2 cups cold milk.  When completely set, mix in the Cool Whip until smooth.  Set aside in fridge.

Bring butter, salt, and water to a boil in a small pot.  Remove from heat and quickly add 1 cup flour, stirring vigorously, until it completely loosens from sides of pot. Beat in eggs, separately, with wooden spoon until smooth.

For the bodies:Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 450ºF for the first 10 min. Lower temp to 350ºF and bake another 20-25 minutes or so. Cool.

For the necks:
Fill a decorating bag with about ½ - 3/4 c of the batter and, using a writing tip, write out 30 or so (2 ½" tall) question marks on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (They will look way too thin, but they puff up to the right size.) Bake at 450ºF for about 5 minutes and then check and don’t leave the oven until they are just a light golden color, maybe another 3 minutes.

To assemble:
Slice cream puffs horizontally about ¾ of the way up (just the top) and set aside.  Fill bottoms with pudding mixture.  Insert the necks on one end.  For wings, cut tops in half and insert, cut side into filling, so that the wings stand up. Place on shiny silver tray or mirror for lake effect, or serve on chocolate syrup. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.  


Anne's Blooper Batch -- Oops! I forgot to check on them!



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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming