Sunday, June 24, 2012

I am Noah

Meet my eleven year old (I can't believe I have an eleven year old, crazy).  He eats sleeps and breaths basketball.  He is easily frustrated when he can't do something perfect and he hates to disappoint.  He gets up early in the morning to get all the things done that he doesn’t like doing (practicing piano, reading, unloading the dishwasher).  He is my pickiest eater, but loves all things sweet (chocolate cake being at the top of his list).  He has a signature funny face that makes me laugh every time and he seems to be growing up way too quickly!  Meet my Noah. 

I am Noah.  I picked cream cheese eggs because I love them.  I started to like them when my Grandma Lisa made them for me.  They are my favorite because I like the taste of cream cheese.  I am going to make them again for breakfast tomorrow.

Cream Cheese Scrambled Eggs

10 large eggs
1/2 heaping teaspoon salt
Several grinds of ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

Crack eggs into a medium bowl.  Add salt, pepper, and milk.  Whip with a fork until streaks are gone and color is pure yellow; stop beating while bubbles are still large.

Meanwhile, put butter into a 12-inch nonstick skillet, then set the pan over medium high heat.  When the butter foams, swirl it around and up the sides of the pan.  Before foam completely subsides, pour in beaten eggs from one side of the pan to the other, slowly but deliberately, lifting and folding eggs as they form into curds, until eggs are nicely clumped into a single mound, but remain shiny and wet.  Add cream cheese to eggs and carefully fold into the eggs until just white streaks remain.  Serve immediately. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chocolate Pots de Creme and World Peace Cookies

This dessert is a chocolate dream comes true! I made this chocolate treat for a girl’s lunch with my sisters, mom, aunt and grandma and I will have to say that making and eating it brought chocolate happiness to my day!

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Pots De Crème

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
5 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon instant decaffeinated coffee mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream (cold)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For The Pots de Crème:  Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.

Whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until combined; whisk in heavy cream and half-and-half.  Transfer mixture to medium saucepan.  Cook mixture over medium-heat, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and custard registers 175 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8 to 12 minutes.  Do not let custard overcook or simmer.

Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate.  Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 5 minutes.  Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla and coffee.  Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-ounce ramekins.  Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove air bubbles.

Cool pots de crème to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 72 hours.  Before serving, let pots de crème stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes.

For The Whipped Cream:  Using hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla on low speed until bubbles form, about 30 seconds.  Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave trail, about 30 seconds longer.  Increase speed to high; continue beating until nearly doubled in volume and whipped cream forms soft peaks, 30-45 seconds longer. 

Dollop each pot de crème with whipped cream.  Serve.

Recipe adapted just a tiny bit from America's Test Kitchen

World Peace Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chips

Sift flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.  Add both sugar, salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 more minutes.

Turn off mixer.  Pour flour mixture and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each.  If there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, continue mixing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flours disappears into the dough-for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly.  Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half.  Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.  (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.  If you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking-just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting ready to bake:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Working with a sharp knife, slice the logs into round that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you're cutting them-don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.)  Arrange rounds on the baking sheets, leaving one inch between them.  Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes- they won't look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be.  Transfer to a baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Friday, June 15, 2012

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

"Those are the bomb!"  were the words straight out of Noah's mouth after taking a bite of these super yummy, super moist (I kind of don't like that word), super amazing banana bread bars.

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting (say that five times fast)

Banana Bread Bars

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour

Brown Butter frosting

1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour 15x10-inch jelly roll pan.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter.  Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.  Add sour cream and mix to combine.  Blend in bananas and vanilla.  Add flour, baking soda, salt and mix until all ingredients are combined.

Spread batter evenly into pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

For the frosting, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty.  Stir frequently, scraping up any bits form the bottom as you do.  Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns.  Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract and milk (one tablespoon at a time).  Beat until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze, but thinner than frosting).

Using a spatula, spread frosting over warm bars.  Sprinkle tops of bars lightly with sea salt if you are like me and love salty and sweet.

*I used a 10x10 baking pan and made 16 mini muffins because I don't own a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan.  I think a 9x13-inch pan would work just fine too.

Adapted slightly from life’s simple measures

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meet Stella

This week my guest post is a four year old little girl who is extremely determined and stubborn.  She loves to cuddle and give kisses and hugs.  You can't leave our house without giving her a kiss and a hug or there will be tears, a lot of tears.  She loves Cheetos.  She loves to have her nail painted and wear dresses (she changes numerous times throughout the day).  She can walk lightning fast with her walker and when I go in to her room at night to give a kiss after she has fallen asleep, I still get a tight excited feeling inside when I look at her.  This is Stella (or Stells for short).

Stella picked to help me make pancakes for breakfast and this is my conversation with her while we were eating breakfast.

Me:  What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Stella:  Maybe Sprite.  No we don't drink sprite.  I like to drink sprite for breakfast.
Me:  Why did you pick pancakes?
Stella:  Because I like pancakes.
Me:  What kind of pancakes do you like?
Stella:  Strawberry.  Guess what would be gooder?  Dipping strawberries in soup.
Me:  What kind of soup?
Stella:  Strawberry shortcake soup.
Me:  What did you want your pancakes shaped like?
Stella:  A pig and Minnie mouse.
Me:  Is your Minnie mouse pancake good?
Stella:  Yes.  I'm still thirsty.  Can I have some more juice?
Me:  Do you like to help me cook?
Stella:  Yes.
Me:  When you help me cook what do you like to do?
Stella:  Play in the water.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white flour
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flours, ground flaxseed, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and egg white, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist.

Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.  Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle.  Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked.  Serve with butter and syrup.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thank You Stephanie!

My taste buds were singing with happiness when I ate this open faced sandwich and I have my sister Stephanie to thank (a big thanks)!  Stephanie is living in Oregon with her little family and frequents the farmers markets (she tells me all about them and I feel slightly envious.  I might just have to make a trip to Oregon).  One of the food vendors was selling a sandwich kind of similar to this, but on a bagel.  Stephanie and I have both tried our own versions at home (I took the easy way out and bought the bread and Stephanie made homemade bagels that looked amazing) and oh my, wow-eee, I think I might dream about this sandwich! 

Open Faced Ricotta, Roasted Asparagus and Chimichurri Sandwich

A loaf of artisan bread, sliced (I used mini baguettes sliced in half)

Ricotta Cheese

4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use 2 teaspoons Maldon salt)

Add ingredients to a 4-quart pot.  Attach a thermometer to the side of the pot (making sure that it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan).  Bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to prevent scorching.  (Do not stir once the temperature reaches 170, it will become grainy.)  

Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.

Once curds begin to separate from the whey (liquid temperature will be between 175 and 200 degrees), remove from heat.  Gently spoon or ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer.  You may need to gently gather the cheesecloth at the top to help the curds drain.  

Let curds sit in cheesecloth to drain liquid 15 to 30 minutes.  Keep in mind the ricotta will thicken in the fridge, so don't drain it too much, or it will end up dry. 

Chimichurri Sauce

2 Tablespoons hot water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/3 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
2/3 cup loosely packed cilantro
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine hot water, salt, and oregano in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften oregano.  Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped, about ten-1 second pulses.  Add water mixture and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine.  Transfer mixture to medium bowl and slowly whisk in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour (if preparing sauce in advance, refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using).

This sauce is mouthwatering deliciousness!  Just the smell alone sends me into a food trance.

Recipe adapted just a tiny bit from America's Test Kitchen

Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus.  Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat asparagus completely.  Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the asparagus until tender, but still crisp, about 8-10 minutes.

Assemble sandwich:  Preheat broiler and place sliced bread on pan.  Place pan in oven until bread is crisp around the edges.  Remove from oven and top with ricotta cheese and roasted asparagus.  Drizzle or spoon chimichurri sauce on top of asparagus.  Eat and prepare to fall in love with a sandwich!

*I can't wait to try this same combo on a pizza.  Sooo good!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meet Preston and His Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Today I would like to introduce you to my guest post and I think he is pretty darn cool.  He is eight years old, he's easy going, he's constantly dribbling or bouncing a ball in our house, he wants to be an astronaut and go to the moon, his entire face lights up when he smiles and he still comes into my bedroom every night around 2 AM to sleep on the floor.  This is Preston (or Tone for short).

My name is Preston.  Today I was looking on taste spotting with my mom and I saw a recipe for red velvet crinkle cookies.  It said they were really easy to make and so I asked my mom if she would print the recipe so I could make them.  My mom took me to Wal-Mart to get a red velvet cake mix, but they didn't have red velvet and so I picked a chocolate cake mix.  We came home and I read the recipe and then I started making the chocolate crinkle cookies.  I took some pictures before they were baked and after they were baked.  I was really excited to eat them because I made them by myself.  When I was done with my first cookie I said to my mom, "I made these by myself and they are really good!"  I asked all my family if they were good.  They all said that they were incredibly good.  I'm excited to learn to make more food!

Preston's Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
18.25-ounce box Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with a silicon mat and parchment paper.  Place powdered in a shallow bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, vanilla, salt and chocolate cake mix and mix until combined.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and coat with powdered sugar.  Place on cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches for spreading.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops have cracked and the tops look set.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooking rack.

*This summer I am going to have a guest post from one of my little ones each week.  They will pick what they want to make and then they will make it (with me standing nearby).  They will also take the picture and write the post.  I thought this would be a fun way for them to get involved in the kitchen.

Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef

Monday, June 4, 2012

Double Lemon Bars

These lemon bars were the perfect ending to a very hot summer day.

Double Lemon Bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into pieces, room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a large bowl.  Add butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Press mixture into bottom of 9x13x2-inch baking dish.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Maintain oven temperature.

Beat eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon flour and lemon peel in a medium bowl to blend.  Pour onto crust.  Bake until mixture is set, about 20 minutes.  Cool.  Sift powdered sugar over top before serving.

Recipe from Stephmodo

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mini Corn Dogs

These mini corn dogs almost didn't happen tonight.  This is how it went.  I was getting all the ingredients ready and went to grab the cornmeal out of my pantry.  The cornmeal was sitting innocently (at least it looked innocent) on the top shelf of my pantry.  I reached up to grab it and it tipped towards me and Ahhhhhhhh!  Blast, the lid wasn't on tight!  Cornmeal went everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE!  It was on my face, down my shirt, in my hair, all over the floor and in every nook and cranny it could reach within a 4 foot radius of where I was standing.  I stood there stunned, covered in cornmeal and not knowing whether I should laugh or cry.  All I can say is bless the vacuum that helped me clean that darn cornmeal!  After all that, the corn dogs were a hit, except for Noah who wasn't particularly fond of the outside of the corn dog (who doesn't like the outside of a corn dog?).  

The recipe is for full size corn dogs.  Instead, I used little precooked all natural chicken sausages from Costco.

Corn Dogs

8 hot dogs (cut in half of mini hot dogs/precooked chicken sausages)
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
About 8 cups vegetable oil, divided (I didn't use this much)
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Put 3 tablespoons of flour on a plate.  Insert a wooden stick (with mini corn dogs use a toothpick) into each hot dog.  Roll hot dogs in flour to coat, shaking off excess.

Heat 3 inches oil to 350 degrees F in a deep 3-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, whisk together cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, cayenne, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.  Add eggs 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Whisk in buttermilk.

Transfer some of the batter to a tall glass, filling it almost to the top.  Working in batches of 2 or 3, dip hot dogs, 1 at a time, into glass of batter to coat (add more batter to glass if necessary), then fry, turning occasionally, until batter is cooked through and golden-brown all over, about 3 minutes.  Transfer corn dogs to paper towels to drain.  Return oil to 350 degrees F. and refill with batter between batches.

*I ended up stirring a bit more buttermilk into the batter because my batter was a bit thick.  I also just realized that I forgot to add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the batter (not sure how it would change the batter).

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dinner for Two, Please

Last night it was just me and Stells for dinner.  We decided on eggs and toast.  Stella likes her eggs over easy or "gooey," and for me, scrambled with salsa and cheese.  Our toast was buttered and slathered with raspberry jam (made today, so good and so easy).  There's no special recipe for the jam, just some raspberries, sugar, water, and a box of SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin.  I grew up on raspberry and strawberry freezer jam and it's definitely a favorite around this house of mine.

Raspberry Freezer Jam

3 cups crushed raspberries (I like to puree my raspberries, no chunks please.)
5 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 box SURE-JELL fruit pectin

Wash and dry either glass or plastic containers.  Measure exactly 3 cups of crushed raspberries into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in sugar.  Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix water and pectin in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.  Continue boiling and stirring for 1 minute.  Add to fruit mixture; stir 3 minutes or until sugar is almost dissolved and no longer grainy.

Fill containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops.  Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids.  Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.  Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks of freeze extra containers up to 1 year.  Makes about 7 (1 cup) containers.

*I usually use frozen raspberries that have been thawed.

 Recipe from