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 2020:
* Make at least 20 recipes for the Instant Pot
* Use the Spiralizer more often

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 New Ingredient Challenge

A summary of my 2012 New Ingredient Resolution Progress--my personal challenge to make recipes using ingredients I hadn't cooked with before.   I didn't complete all 52 weeks, but I got to 35, and that's 35 in the right direction.  There's still a lot of ingredients I want to be brave and try... like squid/octopus, caviar, goose, collard greens, lentils, etc. 

New Ingredients used in 2012:

Week 1: Persimmons  - Persimmon Bread and Persimmon Pudding
Week 2: Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) - Hummus and Garbanzo Bean and Zucchini Salad
Week 3: Sea Scallops - Seared Scallops on Farfalle with Tomato-Cream Sauce
Week 4: Swiss Chard -  Rainbow Chard and Gruyère Quiche
Week 5: Liquid Smoke - Anne's BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Week 6: Cherimoya - Cherimoya Chiffon Pie
Week 7: Lobster, Polenta - Surf & Turf with Broccolini over Parmesan Polenta
Week 8: Eggplant - Eggplant and Zucchini Brown Rice Gratin
Week 9: Fresh Coconut - Tahitian Coconut Bread and Coconut-Crusted Tilapia with Mango Salsa
Week 10: Jicama - Pulled Pork Sandwich with Jicama Slaw
Week 11: Parsnips - Irish Parsnip-Apple Soup
Week 12: Bulgar - Tabbouleh
Week 13: Tangerines - Tangerine Beef with Snap Peas
Week 14: Edamame - Roasted Edamame Salad
Week 15: Prosciutto - Apple, Gouda, and Prosciutto Panini and Asparagus-Prosciutto Fettuccine Alfredo
Week 16: Pummelo, Tangelo - Seared Ahi Tuna on a Pummelo and Tangelo Salad
Week 17: Kale - Kale Chips  and Better Kale Chips
Week 18: Agave Nectar - Mango-Chipotle-Agave Chicken and Mexican Churro Balls with Agave Caramel Sauce and Agave Mint Limeade
Week 19: Spam - Pizza Spam Bake
Week 20: Ugli Fruit, Watercress - Ugli Duckling and Rosemary Potatoes
Week 21: Fennel - Shaved Fennel Salad
Week 22: Pluots - Grilled Pluot Salad and Dino Egg Crumble
Week 23: Chai Tea - Chai Tea Cookies
Week 24: Braunschweiger - Braunschweiger Melt
Week 25: Swordfish - Grilled Swordfish
Week 26: Pine nuts - Zeus Burgers
Week 27: Okra - Cajun Gumbo
Week 28: Purple Potatoes - Herbed Purple Potatoes and Roasted Garlic Mashed Purple Potatoes
Week 29: Mascarpone Cheese - Raspberry Tart
Week 30: Beauty Heart Radish - Radish, Cucumber, and Spinach Salad
Week 31: Bison - Grilled Bison Tenderloin with Herb Butter
Week 33: Pomegranate -  Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Week 34: Crab - Pan-Fried Crab Cakes with Lemon-Herb Sauce
Week 35: Tofu - Tofu Fried Rice and Tofu, Sobe, and Veggie Stir-Fry

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Anne's 2013 Cooking Resolutions

My first resolution is to make at least 50 recipes (5 recipes each) from ten chosen cookbooks.

I have a lot of cookbooks, more than I really have a right to own.  This new interest in cooking led me to imagine that I was going to become some prodigious master home chef (hah!), but many of my poor neglected cookbooks have been collecting dust deep in the archives of my kitchen library.   I've only made one or two recipes from my Julia Child cookbook, and James Beard's American Cookery has never even been opened.  It's a crime!  So I'm determined to use my cookbooks for their recipes rather than their decorative value.

Make 5 recipes from each of the following ten books:

1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking - Julia Child
  1. Asperges with Béarnaise Sauce
  2. Soufflé au Fromage 
  3. Coq au Vin 
  4. Pommes de Terre Sautées 
  5. Clafouti 
2. American Cookery - James Beard
  1. Chocolate Cream Pie
  2. Sauteed Pork Loin Chops with Whiskey Sauce
  3. Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  4. Poached Stuffed Chicken Breasts
  5. Ratatouille 
3. The Joy of Cooking - Irma Rombauer
  1. Homemade Applesauce
  2. Panfried Spice-Crusted Fish Fillets
  3. Becker Brussels Sprouts  
  4. Barbecued Ribs  
  5. Snickerdoodles
4. How to Cook Everything - Mark Bittman
  1. BLT Frittata 
  2. Saffron Orzo, Risotto-Style
  3. Broiled Tomatoes with Herbs 
  4. Arroz con Pollo 
  5. Steak au Poivre 
5. The New Best Recipe - America's Test Kitchen
  1. Sausage and Bell Pepper Pizza (with homemade dough and sauce) 
  2. Spinach Lasagna 
  3. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie 
  4. Pad Thai
  5. Pumpkin Pie 
6. The New Way to Cook Light - Cooking Light
  1. Shrimp Salad
  2. Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken 
  3. Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Prosciutto Crisps 
  4. Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos
  5. Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca 
7. Cooking for Two 2009 - America's Test Kitchen
  1. Chicken Tikka Masala 
  2. Chicken En Papillote 
  3. Roast Rack of Lamb with Whiskey Sauce 
  4. Smashed Potatoes
  5. Garlicky Green Beans
8. Eating Well Serves Two - Romanoff
  1. Sweet Potato Oven Fries
  2. Pork Chops with Cumberland Sauce  
  3. Thyme & Sesame-Crusted Halibut 
  4. Quinoa, Mango, and Black Bean Salad 
  5. Cider Vinegar-and-Molasses-Glazed Pork Chops
9. 100 Years and Still Cooking - Dairyland Seed 100th Anniversary
  1. Snicker Cookies
  2. Baked Walleye  
  3. Vegetable Dip 
  4. Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
  5. Broccoli Casserole 
10. Anne's choice - various cookbooks/magazines in my kitchen library
  1. Pear Crisp  (from Cooking For Two
  2. Feta-Stuffed Lamb Burgers (from Weight Watchers Cook It Quick
  3. Chicken & Squash Enchiladas (from Weight Watchers Cook It Quick)
  4. Perfect Pepper Ribeye Steaks (from Taste of Home Grill It)
  5. Grilled Cheesy Potato Pouches (from Taste of Home Grilling Collection)

My second goal is to reduce waste by planning meals for the entire week, finishing leftovers, and utilizing ingredient excess in future meals.
This needs to improve.  I get all excited and buy ingredients to make a new recipe, but only need 1/4 or 1/2 of the purchased item.  Instead of letting it sit in my fridge until it's green (not the good type of green), I need to have a plan in place to use it for another recipe before it goes bad.   Additionally, I need to actually eat the leftovers created by these recipes.  I bought a dry erase board today to aid in my grocery shopping and meal planning.  I am fairly certain my husband will laugh at me.

Wish me luck!   Maybe you'll be inspired to dust off some old cookbooks this year, too.   Post a comment and tell me YOUR 2013 cooking resolutions!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Auntie Pam's Chili Con Carne (Soup #6)

In preparation of what everyone is calling the "snowpocalypse," I decided to make another soup recipe from my Bridal Shower collection.  Jeremy and I felt like we wanted something meaty to warm us up through the foot of snow that is forecasted, so we settled on a chili recipe.  This one was given to me by my Maid-of-Honor, Rachel, and her mom, Pam.

We took a few liberties with the recipe, adding macaroni and more chili powder and hot pepper sauce.  I also sprinkled some Cayenne pepper in there.  I probably could have used even more.  We made corn muffins to accompany it.  I'm posting the adjusted version of Pam's recipe to reflect what I actually made.  It was delicious.

Serves 6-8

1 pound ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
28oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
6oz can tomato paste
1 can condensed tomato soup
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 can pinto beans
Elbow macaroni

In a large sauce pot, brown meat with onion and garlic.  Add remaining ingredients except the pinto beans and macaroni; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1&1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.  Add macaroni and pinto beans to pot and cook until heated.    Garnish with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tofu, Sobe, and Veggie Stir-Fry

 Week 35 Featured Ingredient: Soba Noodles

I still had some tofu left, so I decided to try another recipe.  This one was really delicious.  Marinating the tofu gave it great flavor.  The sobe noodles, which are a Japanese buckwheat noodle, were really tasty.  I liked them a lot.  I used a lot of vegetables in my recipe to keep it healthy. 

Anne's Tofu, Sobe, and Vegetable Stir Fry
Serves 4

1 package (14 oz) firm or extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup sake (rice wine)
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
8 oz soba noodles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small strips
2 cups snap peas
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
2 cups chopped bok choy

Cut tofu into 1/2" cubes.  Combine sake, soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a shallow dish just large enough to hold tofu in a single layer.  Add tofu.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, turning once.

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Place in a large bowl.

Put sesame seeds on a plate.  Remove tofu from marinade and toss cubes in the sesame seeds until coated.  Pour the remaining tofu marinade onto the noodles.   Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Cook tofu until golden, about 3-4 minutes, turning once; add to noodles.

Heat remaining sesame oil in the skillet and add the garlic, ginger, and vegetables.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are crisp-tender, about 5-8 minutes.  Add to the noodles and toss to combine.   Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing


Gingerbread Cookies
From The Best New Recipes Cookbook
Makes ~20-35 people or 30-55 round cookies

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1&1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk

With an electric mixer, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Stop the mixer and add the butter pieces; mix at a medium-low speed until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 90 seconds.  Reduced the speed to low and, with the mixer running, gradually add the molasses and milk;  mix until the dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

Scrape the dough onto a work surface; divide in fourths.  Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper.  Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment, stack the dough on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer; place on the work surface.  Peel of the top parchment sheet and gently put it back in place.  Flip the dough over; peel off and discard the second parchment sheet.  Cut the dough into gingerbread people or round cookies, transferring the cutouts to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Set the scraps aside.  Bake the cookies in a preheated 325º oven ~10 minutes until centers are set.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet a couple minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.   Gather the scraps and repeat the rolling, cutting, and baking.

Royal Icing
Recipe from Wilton Cake Decorating
Yield: 3 cups

3 level tablespoons Meringue Powder  (I got it from Hobby Lobby)
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (~1 pound)
6 tablespoons water (use less for stiffer icing)

Beat all ingredients at low speed for 7-10 minutes until icing forms peaks.

Tofu Fried Rice (2012- Week 34)

Week 34 Featured Ingredient: Tofu

Tofu--the ingredient that strikes fear in a Midwestern meat-and-potato sensibility.   It's been on my culinary to-do list all year and now that it's December, I figured I might as well bite the bullet and finally try it.  And guess what?  It wasn't bad at all!  And dare I say it--I actually liked this recipe!   It's not going to make me give up meat, but hey, at least I know I don't have to tear out the tofu pages of my cookbooks or wrinkle my nose in mock disgust.  I might even try it again.  Will wonders never cease.

Tofu Fried Rice
from The New Way to Cook Light Cookbook
378 calories/serving (1&1/2 cups)
Serves 4

2 cups rice, cooked
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 package (14 oz) reduced-fat firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup green onion slices
1 cup frozen peas and diced carrots, thawed
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat.  Add tofu; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove from pan to a plate or bowl.  Add eggs to pan; Cook 1 minutes or until done, breaking the egg into small pieces.  Remove from pan and add to tofu.

Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add the onions, peas and carrots, garlic, and ginger; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.   Add cooked rice to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Mix together the sake, soy sauce, hoisin, and sesame oil.  Add the tofu, egg, and soy sauce mixture to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Serve and garnish with sliced green onions if desired.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pan-Fried Crab Cakes (2012 - Week 33)

Week 33 Featured Ingredient: Crab

I don't think I've worked with crab before, so I picked it as this week's mystery ingredient.  I decided to make a classic Crab Cake with a Lemon Herb Sauce.  The crab cakes were super delicious.  The sauce was just ok, but the cakes really didn't need it; they were flavorful enough on their own.  Why haven't I made these before?!

Pan-Fried Crab Cakes with Lemon-Herb Sauce

Adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook
Serves 4  (2 cakes/serving)

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat (with shells/cartilage removed)
4 scallions, green parts, minced (~1/2 cup)
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
salt and ground white pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
lemon wedges or dipping sauce

Lemon Herb Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2&1/2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large scallion, white and green parts, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, gently fold the crabmeat, peppers, scallions, herbs, Old Bay, bread crumbs, and mayonnaise, being careful not to break up the lumps of crab.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste.  Carefully fold in the egg with a rubber spatula until the mixture just clings together.  Add more crumbs if necessary.

Shape small clumps of the the mixture into a fat, round cake about 3" wide and 1.5" high.  Arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (up to 24 hours).

Put the flour on a plate.  Lightly dredge the cakes in the flour.  Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Gently lay the chilled crab cakes in the skillet and pan-fry until the outsides are crisp and browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve immediately with lemon wedge or dipping sauce if desired.

To make Lemon Herb Dipping Sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes until ready to serve.  (Will keep in the fridge for several days)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fish Meunière with Browned Butter and Lemon

I couldn't decide what to make for dinner, so I played a fun little game with my Facebook friends.  I took out 5 large cookbooks, assigned them letters from A to E and then asked my friends to pick a letter and number and then I looked up the recipe from each corresponding page in the cookbook.  I let my husband decide which recipe he liked best of the random numbers.  (Of course, some pages landed on random stuff like "pastry dough" or "mayonnaise" so those didn't seem appealing for dinner).  He picked this fish recipe.  FYI: Meunière means Miller's wife, a reference to the flour used in the recipe.  Unfortunately, I learned it's difficult to find fresh sole or flounder in Wisconsin.  I had to purchase cheap frozen flounder fillets and thaw them out.  They were smaller than the recipe called for, so I reduced the cooking time a little. The recipe was inexpensive, easy, fast, and good.  No complaints.

Fish Meunière with Browned Butter and Lemon
From The New Best Recipe Cookbook 
Serves 2

2 sole or flounder fillets (5-6oz each and 3/8" thick)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Browned Butter Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
3/4 tablespoon juice from 1/2 lemon
lemon wedges, for serving, from other 1/2 lemon

Pat fish dry with paper towel.  Generously salt and pepper both sides of fish; let stand ~5 minutes until fillets are glistening.  Coat both sides of fillets with flour, shaking off the excess, and place on a baking sheet while the skillet preheats.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering.  Add 1 tablespoon butter and swirl to coat the pan bottom.  When the foaming subsides, carefully place the fillets skin-side-up in the skillet.  Immediately reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, without moving the fish, until the edges of the fish are opaque and the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Using 2 spatulas, gently flip the fillets and cook on the second side about 2 minutes, until fish is flaky.

To make the sauce, add butter to the skillet and swirl until melted.  Continue to cook until butter turns golden brown and has nutty aroma.  Remove from the heat and add lemon juice.  Sprinkle the fish with parsley and and spoon some sauce over the top.  Serve immediately with lemon wedge.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pear and Pomegranate Salad (2012- Week 32)

Week 32 Featured Ingredient: Pomegranates

Pomegranates are now in season for the holidays, so I decided to make a recipe using this fruit for our large Thanksgiving family gathering.   I was in charge of bringing a salad, so I found a delicious-looking salad recipe online that used both pomegranate seeds and pomegranate juice. 

The salad itself was really good.  My relatives seemed to enjoy it.  I strayed from the original recipe by adding spinach and green kale to the arugula instead of romaine and I left out the pistachios because I knew our gathering included at least one person with a nut allergy.  I liked the crunch and sweetness that the pears and pomegranate seeds added, and the crumbled feta had a nice soft contrast.  It was a nice balance and an elevated salad for a special occasion.

Regarding the vinaigrette, the original recipe called for pomegranate molasses.  I checked 4 different grocery stores, but it was clear that I wasn't going to find this strange ingredient anywhere.  So I decided to make this special molasses by reducing pure pomegranate juice.  It didn't work, mostly because I started with way too much juice in the pot.  I ended up using a couple tablespoons of the juice in the vinaigrette anyway, as is.  The vinaigrette was good, but I couldn't detect the pomegranate flavor.

Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
(Anne's Recipe-- adapted from Food 52 Online)
Serves ~8-10

4 cups fresh baby spinach
4 cups fresh baby arugula 
2 cups fresh green kale
3 ripe pears, cored and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
pomegranate vinaigrette

Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
1 large shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (reduce 1/2 cup pomegranate juice to a thick syrup)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepepr
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, combine the shallot, pomegranate molasses, vinegar, salt, and pepper and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Whisk in the olive oil and let vinaigrette stand at room temperature until salad is assembled.

Combine the greens, pears, and half of the pomegranate seeds in a large bowl.   Crumble half of the goat cheese over the ingredients in the bowl.  Whisk the vinaigrette until uniform and add a little bit to the salad, gently tossing to coat to your liking. Crumble the remaining cheese over the salad and sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds over the top. Serve immediately.

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Gratin

Here's a veggie side dish I contributed to the Vechinski family Thanksgiving.   I merged a couple recipes I found online to come up with this veggie casserole.   I chose to use fresh vegetables and roast/steam them before adding them to the casserole, but I suppose you could just use frozen packages to make things faster and easier.   Everyone seemed to really like it.  When you notice people taking a second helping of a vegetable dish, it must be good. :)

Roasted Cauliflower and Steamed Broccoli Gratin

1 large cauliflower head (~2&1/2 lbs), cut into florets
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1&1/4 cups lowfat milk
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (or sharp cheddar or whatever)
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Spread cauliflower florets onto baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to evenly coat.  Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 15 minutes until the edges brown/caramelize and the cauliflower is tender.

While the cauliflower roasts, place the broccoli in a steamer basket fitted over a large saucepan with boiling water.  Cover and steam broccoli until crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes.

In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in flour, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper.  Add milk; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Add cheeses and cook and stir until cheese is melted.  Turn off heat, add the roasted cauliflower and steamed broccoli, and toss gently to coat.

Spoon mixture into a 2-quart (8x8") baking dish.   To make topping, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, melted butter, and Italian seasoning.  Sprinkle over cheesy vegetable mixture.   Bake at 350º for 30-40 minutes until top is lightly browned and cheesy is bubbly.

Note:  Unbaked casserole may be prepared a day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate, then bake as directed.

Dutch Apple Loaf

Here's another quick bread I made for Jeremy's family's Thanksgiving.   It was moist and tasty, but still not as good as the apple bread my aunt makes for Thanksgiving.   I really liked the topping on this loaf though.

Dutch Apple Loaf
Recipe from Taste of Home

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1&1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups diced peeled tart apples
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in buttermilk and vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture.  Fold in apples and nuts.  Pour into a greased 9x5" loaf pan.  For topping, combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350º for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in pan at least 10 minutes, and then cool on wire rack at least an hour before serving.

Cranberry-Walnut Bread

 I made this loaf to take to Jeremy's family Thanksgiving.  Jeremy's mom and I really liked it.  Some people just aren't cranberry fans I guess.  I, for one, think this recipe is a keeper!

Cranberry-Nut Bread
Makes one 9" loaf
Recipe taken from "The New Best Recipe" Cookbook

2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/3 cup juice from 1 large orange
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped coarse
1&1/2 cups cranberries, chopped coarse

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375ºF.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5" loaf pan and dust with a little flour, tapping out the excess.

In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, butter, egg, orange juice, and orange zest.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just moistened.  Gently stir in the nuts and cranberries.  Do not over-mix.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the spatula.

Bake at 375º for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º and bake an additional ~45 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.   Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving.    (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Microwaved Sweet Potato for 1

My husband was gone deer hunting, so I had to prepare dinner for just myself.  I wanted something fast and low-fuss, so I made myself a salad plus this microwave-baked Sweet Potato with a brown sugar and pecan topping for a little extra yummy flavor. Delicious.  

Microwave-Baked Sweet Potato with Pecan Topping
Serves 1
1 sweet potato
1/2 tablespoon softened butter
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped pecans

Scrub, but do not peel, the potatoes.  Pierce them in several places with a fork.  Microwave on High for 12 minutes until done.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chopped pecans on a paper plate and microwave on high for 1 or 2 minutes, they should smell toasted when they are done.

Combine the butter, sugar, and pecans in a small bowl.  Once potatoes are done, slice length wise, about 2/3 of the way down (do not cut through) and "fluff" the inside of the potato with a fork.  Sprinkle the pecan mixture over the top.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crispix Chicken and Brussles Sprouts

I wanted to use up a chicken breast in the fridge, but I ran out of bread crumbs, so I made my own crunchy coating using Crispix cereal.  It was really good. :)

Baked Crispix Chicken

1 or 2 chicken breasts
~1&1/2 cups Crispix cereal
~1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
~1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch kosher salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lime lowfat yogurt

Mix together the Dijon mustard and yogurt.  Evenly coat the chicken with the mixture. 
Crush the Crispix in a large resealable plastic bag and mix with the other seasonings.  Dip the chicken into the mixture until evenly coated.   Bake chicken on baking sheet in oven at 400ºF for 30 minutes or until done.

Braised Brussles Sprouts

1 pound Brussles sprouts, stem end trimmed and discolored leaves removed by hand
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring the sprouts, water, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cover and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes (shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the sprouts) until a knife tip inserted into sprout meets no resistance.  Drain well and season, if desired, with black pepper and butter or parmesan cheese.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grilled Bison Tenderloin with Herb Butter (2012 - Week 31)

Week 31 Featured Ingredient: Bison

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam.... onto my plate.   This was another find at the Farmers' Market, and I'm so glad I tried it.   We grilled the bison tenderloin medium-rare (because that was the recommendation) and it was super juicy and tender and spectacular.  The Essence spice rub was delicious on the steak--I highly recommend it-- and the herb butter gave it that little extra creamy buttery yumminess.   I decided to buy Emeril's Essence Seasoning at the store, but there's also a recipe to make your own.
Grilled Bison Steaks with Herb Butter

Recipe from Food Network Channel - Emeril Lagasse
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup Essence, recipe follows
4 bison steaks 
Herb Butter, recipe follows

In a small bowl, combine the oil and Essence on a plate and mix into a paste. Spread both sides of the steaks completely with the mixture. Place in a shallow dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and bring the meat to room temperature before grilling, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill. Slice the butter into 1/2-inch thick pieces and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Place the steaks on the grill and cook to desired temperature, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, place 1 to 2 pats of herb butter on each steak.

NOTE: Bison will naturally be a darker red than beef.  As bison cooks more quickly than beef, it is best to measure the thickness to cook:
1 inch thick - Rare: 6 to 8 minutes, Medium: 8 to 10 minutes
1 1/2-inch thick - Rare: 8 to 10 minutes, Medium: 10 to 12 minutes
2 inches thick - Rare: 10 to 12 minutes, Medium: 14 to 18 minutes

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup

Herb Butter:
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh lemon thyme or thyme leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, cream together all the ingredients. Place on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap over the butter and pushing in as you go, roll into a tight cylinder, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate until firm. (The butter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Yield: 6 ounces 
Herb Butter

Radish, Cucumber, and Spinach Salad (2012 - Week 30)

Week 30 Featured Ingredient:  Beauty Heart Radish

I made my first trip to the Milwaukee Winter Farmers' Market at the State Fair Park.  There were lots of excellent veggies in sight, but this one really caught my eye when I saw the vibrant pink color inside.  I'd never seen a radish like that.  I found a recipe online and changed it up by adding spinach and orange bell peppers to add more color and nutrition.   I liked this salad.  The Beauty Heart Radishes were very mild and basically added crunch and a pretty color.

Radish, Cucumber, and Spinach Salad with Dill Vinaigrette
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 cucumber, halved lenghwise, thinly sliced
1 large Beauty Heart Radish, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips
4 cups fresh baby spinach
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
Put cucumber, radish, bell pepper, spinach, and lemon zest in a medium bowl, and add cheese. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, dill, sugar, and garlic in another medium bowl, whisking until sugar has dissolved; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified. Add vinaigrette to cucumber mixture; toss well.  Refrigerate salad in an airtight container up to 1 hour.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ham, Gruyère, and Apple Panini

This was a 'raiding the refrigerator' lunch.  I happened to have ham, Gruyère cheese, apples, and thyme sprigs in my fridge, so I found a recipe that used them all.  I love a good grilled cheese sandwich. :)    I don't own a panini press, but my George Foreman grill worked just fine.

Ham, Gruyère, and Apple Panini
Recipe from Food Network Channel - Giada De Laurentiis
Makes 2 sandwiches

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4"-thick slices
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 thick slices bread (I used sliced rye bread)  
2 tablespoons mustard
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
4 slices (4-ounces) Black Forest ham

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are slightly soft, about 4 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.

Preheat a panini press. Spread each bread slice with 1/2 tablespoon mustard.  For each sandwich, arrange 1/4 cup of cheese on a bread slice and top with 2 slices of ham. Place the apple mixture evenly on top of the ham. Add the remaining cheese and cover with the remaining bread slice. Grill in the panini press until the cheese has melted and the tops are golden and crispy, about 5 minutes.

Raspberry Tart (2012- Week 29)

Week 29 Ingredient of the Week: Mascarpone Cheese

On the Food Network Channel, all the chefs are always using Mascarpone cheese, and I kept wondering if I was missing out on something.  Is it the same as cream cheese? Something better?  I just had to find out.  But I never saw it in the cheese or dairy section at the grocery store.  And then, while I was shopping for some Gruyère cheese for my Chicken Cordon Bleu, it suddenly appeared, hidden in the exotic cheese section near the deli!  So I whipped out my iPhone and searched for a recipe using this new ingredient.  This recipe caught my eye because it looked simple and because raspberries were on sale this week!  Woo hoo!

Jeremy and I enjoyed this dessert, although I made the crust way too thick.  I should have just thrown out half of the dough I made instead of trying to press ALL of it into the pie plate.  It was still good, but with just a thinner crust, it would have been perfect.   So... how did the mascarpone differ from regular ol' cream cheese?  Jeremy said he didn't notice.  I definitely tasted a difference, although it's hard to explain.  The mascarpone tasted a little sweeter, a little creamier.  I liked it.

Tart de Framboises au Mascarpone (Raspberry Tart)

2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds
1&3/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
9 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
4&1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound fresh raspberries
chopped pistachios (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease a pie plate (or six 4" tart pans) with butter, then dust with flour.

In a bowl, stir 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar and ground almonds together until well combined. Mix in the flour, then stir in the unsalted butter and egg.  Mix until the dough is smooth and pliable, then form into a ball and place into the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Roll out dough and pat into the prepared pan.  Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes.  Let cool. 

In a bowl, whisk together the mascarpone cheese, yogurt, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is thick and smooth. Spoon the mascarpone filling onto crust; arrange raspberries on top of the filling in an attractive low mound.  Sprinkle each tart with pistachios if desired.  Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Fun fact:  Despite its French name, Chicken Cordon Bleu is an American creation, first referenced in the New York Times in 1967.   'Cordon Bleu' means 'Blue Ribbon'   So this chicken dish is named 'Blue Ribbon Chicken.'

Jeremy and I really liked it.  Sure, I'd give it a blue ribbon. :)   I used Gruyère cheese as a special treat, but you could substitute regular ol' Swiss cheese.  I used ham because I already had some in my fridge that I wanted to use.  Next time, I'd use a thinner cut of chicken breast because no matter how much I pounded that chicken, it wasn't going to be 1/4" thickness.  I settled for 1/2".  Also, I could have added 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter to the bread crumb mixture to give it better browning in the oven.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
4 thin slices prosciutto or ham
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup flour
1 large egg
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper

Place the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.  Using a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to a uniform 1/4" thickness.  Remove wrap.  Place ham over the top to cover the breast.  Next, sprinkle each breast with the grated cheese.  Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight.  Secure with toothpicks.

Shallow bowl 1: Dump some flour. 
Shallow bowl 2: Break an egg into bowl and beat with fork until smooth.
Shallow bowl 3: Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip into the egg mixture, and then coat with the bread crumbs.  Place the chicken on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil.  Bake at 350º for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked.