Tag Archives: best dish

What you want – Baaaaaaaaby I got it! What you need? Ya’ know I got it!

21 Apr

I’m in a singin’ mood today kids! It’s nasty outside in Seattle today, big fatty fatterson rain drops and they were LITERALLY plopping on my head, rolling down my face as I was walking into the office this morning. Awesome, I know.

Now, I know I said in the title that I’ve got what you need. Do not mistake this to mean that I have all the answers, because I don’t….but I know some one who does! Can you guess?  That’s right, the number one site I stalk: www.BHG.com!

Today I opened my Gmail account only to find a perfectly crafted email from BHG (Better Homes and Gardens) that had two really interesting links I had to share:

  1. 26 One-Dish Chicken Dinners
  2. 34 Dinners in under 20 minutes each

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!! Fo reals, you guys.

Here’s one thing to remember as you look those over: You don’t have to follow directions! This isn’t elementary school.  If you see something you kind of like, but don’t like an ingredient or don’t want to bother with a recipe, then just go home, look at what you’ve got in the fridge and pantry that are sort of similar and if you like those flavors, then trust your instinct!

Here’s two that I think are perfect for this time of year without any fuss:

Chunky Bean and Chicken Chili

Chunky Bean and Chicken Chili

and

Turkey Steaks with Spinach, Pears, & Blue Cheese

Turkey Steaks with Spinach, Pears and Blue Cheese

What in the chocolate cake!?

3 Feb

I don’t even like chocolate cake. Seriously. I. Don’t. Like. It.

It always ends up being some gross, dry, crumby, cotton-mouth-dry disaster that someone always swears is “my grandmother’s grandmother’s famous recipe!” (gag)

I would rather have vanilla anything, any day of the week over chocolate. I know, boo hoo. Boring me, right?  Sorry, that’s just how I feel….

So this morning when I saw an email from those cooking freaks (and I mean that in a good way) at my favorite (you guessed it) BHG (what? you don’t know the acronym yet? It’s Better Homes and Gardens) were touting their top cake recipes, I decided to stumble on over and see what was up.

I was REALLY surprised when the third cake I saw was this incredibly dense and NOT dry looking chocolate cake:

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Fudgy Frosting

{credit: Better Homes and Gardens. www.bhg.com}

And of course when I clicked on the picture I realized we share a love of secret ingredients. Theirs is Sour Cream, for this cake….I don’t know about the rest of the cakes, I’m too busy stabbing my screen with a fork.

So, I thought on a rainy Wednesday I’d share with you the joy of their Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe:

Ingredients
2  eggs
1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1/3  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1  tsp. baking powder
1/2  tsp. baking soda
1/2  tsp. salt
1/2  cup shortening
1-1/4  cups sugar
1  tsp. vanilla
3  oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1  8-oz. carton dairy sour cream
1  cup milk
1  recipe Fudgy Frosting

Directions
1. Let eggs stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

2. In small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl beat shortening and sugar on medium speed until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in melted chocolate and sour cream. Alternately add flour mixture and milk; beat on low after each addition just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pans.

3. Bake 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool.

4. Prepare Fudgy Frosting. Place one layer flat side down on plate. Spread top with 1 cup frosting. Stack second layer flat side down. Spread with remaining frosting. Makes 16 servings.

5.Fudgy Frosting: In large pan over low heat melt and stir one 12-oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate pieces and 1/2 cup butter. Cool 10 minutes. Stir in 8-oz. carton sour cream. Stir in 4-1/2 cups (1 lb.) sifted powdered sugar; stir until smooth. Makes 4 cups.

I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s healthy, because it’s not. If I were making it, it probably would be healthy. But I’m not making it. I’m just eating it (or not, since no one else is making it for me. sniff sniff)

Go to the Better Homes and Gardens website for the full nutritional facts, reviews and comments by other folks, and while you’re there, check out the rest of the cake pron (that’s right, I said cake pron. You know what I mean.)

You are what you eat: Lauren’s Mama’s Apple Praline Cheesecake

28 Jan

A fun one for you today, my cooking kittens. Sometimes we just need something sweet to look at (or taste – go make this immediately! Seriously, do it. I can wait.)

There’s one word that describes the level of awesomeness that is this cheesecake in your mouth: WOW.

Not to be cheesy (pun intended) but this cheesecake is my new favorite, classic, timeless recipe, and I’m going to share it with the world and make it for everyone I know.

My friend (and old co-worker) Lauren sent me this recipe and I made it for the first time for Paul’s birthday in late December, and intend on making it many more times over the years.

Here’s the recipe:

Lauren’s Mama’s Apple Praline Cheesecake

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used only walnuts so it was Gluten-free)
1/4 cup melted butter (I used 1/2 butter, 1/2 nonfat yogurt of course)
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
4 packages (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
4 cups chopped peeled apples (about 3)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:
Heat oven to 325 degrees. 

Line 13×9 inch pan with foil.  (I used a round spring form pan, buttered it, lined with parchment and sprayed with PAM)

Mix crumbs, butter and 2 tbsp brown sugar. 

Press onto bottom of pan. 

Bake for 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. 

Add sour cream and blend.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. 

Pour over the crust.

Mix the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, apples, pecans and cinnamon;

spoon over batter.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes.  Let it cool.  Refrigerate 4 hours. 

Use foil to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.

Enjoy!

You are what you eat: Cucina Fresca Pasta

1 Jan

Hey friends!

A while back I got the chance to try some great products from Cucina Fresca, and I wanted to share my thoughts and ideas with you all.

First let me say I LOVE pasta, duh, I’m a woman. We love to carbo load, it’s in our DNA. Shocking, I know.

Second, I have to tell you, it’s hard to screw up pasta, but it’s easy to make it underwhelming, so I had set the bar pretty high for the products that were sent over to me.

To start, I want to share a short video I took of all the products:

I have already tried many, if not most of the things they sent over, but have kept a few for the next rainy day I find myself at home.

Here’s a peek at what I did with their smoked Guyere Mac and Cheese:

I took it out of the container it came in and put it into a glass pyrex (that way when I had leftovers, i could snap on the rubber top that goes to this and take it for lunch the next day, one dish, no fuss.)

About 5 minutes before it was done baking, (BTW: You can do it in the microwave if you want to) I added stirred it and added breadcrumbs to the top to brown.  I think my oven was a bit off, because it didn’t brown as much as I wanted, and the cheese didn’t get as bubbly as I’d hoped it would.

I checked with my contacts at Cucinca Fresca, and it sounds like my lack of browning and cheesiness was an operator error type situation, so I’ll try again! (I have another box in the freezer!)

I finished it off with some white truffle oil and sea salt, it was heavenly. YUM. What’s not to like, right?

Since then, I have also completely gobbled up the butternut squash ravioli and the pear & blue cheese ravioli, as well as the basil cream sauce, the Fettuccini (sp? I’m horrible!) and the smoked tomato sauce. SO GOOD.

I still have the gluten free penne to try on Paul, with their basic Marinara and I think a pack of angel hair pasta and one other sauce? I’ll have to double check. At any rate, stay tuned for more reviews on what seems to be a great line of tasty pasta products. Locally made, by a green concious company.

(geez, now I’m getting hungry!)

Get the handcuffs: Bacon Cinnamon Rolls. WHATTTT?!??!

30 Dec

If you think I’m not making these on New Years Day, think again.

For reals, you guys, WHAT is the deal with these? They look SO GOOD, my mouth is watering.

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I saw this today over at the genius Cake Spy blog and I’m totes MaGoats making these to nosh during the Rose Bowl.

IMGP1188

If you too can’t stop yourself from licking the screen, then please hop over to Cake Spy for the full recipe and notes!

Inspiration: Mom’s Apple Pie

24 Nov

Wrap railings with berry garlands

(pretty winter berry decorating idea from www.Sunset.com for Thanksgiving)

My roommate (and childhood best friend), Emily, just emailed me and asked what my favorite recipe for apple pie is, because she has to make and bring one to Thanksgiving dinner with her family this year.

(Ems with her Vampire pumpkin we carved on Halloween Day)

First, I’d like to say, Ems, WAY TO GO! You’re MAKING your pie, rather than buying one! This is nearly unheard of these days. With apple pies so abundantly available (and well done) it’s easy to take the quick way out and pick it up on your way there.

So I shared a couple of recipes with Emily that I thought she could pick between. Now, I know that I often talk about taking the recipe out of cookin.  And for most of our daily life, that’s just fine! Let it also be said that there’s NOTHING wrong with buying a pie to bring. Afterall, SOMEONE made it, it just wasn’t you!

But, if you’re going to make an apple pie to take somewhere, then I highly suggest you heed (sp?) my following advice on the recipe(s) and techniques.  Why, you ask? Because I’ve made A LOT of pies in my life, and my apple pie happens to be my specialty and my fave.

Mom's Apple Pie

This first recipe comes straight from the Better Homes and Garden’s cook book (although I looked it up online). By far, hands down, this is my all time favorite recipe for apple pie. They call it “Mom’s Apple Pie,” not sure why.

Here’s the recipe:

Mom’s Apple Pie (from Better Homes and Gardens)

Ingredients
6  large apples, sliced (probably best to take skins off but not a neccesity)
1/2  cup light brown sugar
1/2  cup granulated sugar
2  tablespoons cinnamon
1  tablespoon allspice
1  tablespoon nutmeg
2  cups flour (you can sub white rice flour if doing Gluten Free)
1/2  cup vegetable oil
1/4  cup milk
1/2  teaspoon salt

Directions
1. Prepare the crust by mixing the flour, oil, milk, and salt. Separate into two balls, and put each between 2 pieces of wax paper to roll out. Make bottom crust and place in 9-inch pie plate. Preheat oven to 425 degree F.

2. In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, and spices. Add the mixture to the pie plate and add a few pats of butter and three teaspoons of flour (sprinkle over top of pie filling).

3. Roll out top crust and place it over the filling. Crimp the edges of the crust with a fork and place a couple of slits in the top crust to vent. Bake at 350 degree F for 60 minutes.

Emily has just agreed to take pictures and do a guest post for us next week after the turkey and Triptophyn settle!!!! YAY! Stay tuned for her pictures and comments on how easy this recipe was!

 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, I hope you have friends and family to share it with, and may the giving spirit take you through the rest of this year.  Don’t forget, a smile is the cheapest gift, but means more anything money can buy!

Pot Rack: Cast Iron Skillets

29 Oct

Lets talk shop for a minute.

Siiri Talks Shop: what to use in the kitchen and why

There are so many blogs out there that give great cooking advice, recipes, feedback, tips and tricks, but I rarely hear people giving recommendations for the actual materials you’re cooking with.

So “Pot Rack” will be a type of post that allows discussion and exchange of ideas on equipment for cooking and eating.

Today I want to share one of my favorite things with you: a cast iron skillet.

There are probably thousands of recipes that are great for cooking in a cast iron skillet, but a couple come straight to the top of my list: corn bread, and braised chicken with a caper sauce.

Before I get to those recipes/meals, let me give you a couple of notes: You may have seen America’s Test Kitchen do an equipment corner segment on cast iron skillets, to test which one is the “best.” And this is fine. Take their recommendations. But, it can be easier. Two things to remember when looking for a cast iron skillet: (1)pre-seasoned is key and (2)the older the better.

The pre-seasoned attribute (which can be purchased new) adds to the overall flavor and quality of dish. The age of the skillet which denotes how much it’s been used (in most cases) adds to the “non-stick” quality.

One more note: you don’t wash this in the dishwasher EVER, and you don’t wash it with a scrubber and soap. You wash it BY HAND, with scalding hot water, and if you must, a soap free wash cloth or soft sponge. Using soap can ruin the stick-free patina as well as strip out the pre-seasoned quality.

Now, cornbread is an old family fave. I’ve been having it since before I can remember….We had it on chili night, and I would soak a slick with butter and honey, then stick it in my chili so the bottom would soak up the savory flavors. It was basically the 4th of July in my mouth. YUM.

Now, I’m from Seattle, so I don’t pretend to have a great secret recipe for this or anything. But, now is the time of year to be making this. You can really go two ways here: buy the Jiffy box mix, which serves you JUST FINE. It’s really good, and that’s why it’s been around for who knows how many decades. Somehow, the price is still only $.69 a box.

The other way to go is someone’s mother’s or grandma’s recipe. That’s what we’re going to do this time around. Stay tuned next week for Lauren’s mom (Cathy aka MomBun) recipe. Lauren’s birthday is this Saturday (yes, Halloween) and Cathy sent her a birthday present in the mail that was a little worse for wear when it arrived (the box was torn up a bit and we could see the corner of the cast iron skillet. Lauren predicts the recipe and mix are also in the box, but has to wait till Saturday to open.)

[kpo+wedding.jpg]

Lauren will be guest posting for us, with MomBum’s recipe, her favorite memory and tips for making the best cast iron skillet corn bread.

The week after that, we’ll discuss the second recipe: braised chicken in a caper sauce.

Any questions, comments, feedback? Discuss!

Main event: Siiri’s famous squash soup

20 Oct

Good Tuesday Morning, Readers!

So last week, I shared my squash hunting experience with you, from the crisp and windy shores of Lake Chelan, Washington. I showed you how I roasted the squash to prepare them for my famous soup, which I was going to make for our dinner guest on Saturday night.

And indeed, squash soup was created and devoured. (I now think I may call it Squash Chowder, because it’s so hearty and thick, and slightly chunky, it resembles a chowder more).

I’ll share my “recipe” with you below, which of course is like most of my dishes in that the recipe is forgiving, loose and adaptable, so you can really just use what you’ve got with almost little to no ‘store run’ purchases.

I also will show you my favorite Fall decor accessories that I’ve been dying to use since I picked them up on Crate and Barrel discount at the end of last Fall. (please excuse the blurry photo)

Crate and Barrel pumpkin soup bowls

Ingredients
1 Acorn Squash
1 Butternut Squash
(other squash optional, I used Buttercup, known for it’s sweetness)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1-2 cans low sodium, fat free chicken or vegetable broth
1 bag frozen corn, about 16oz. (yellow is sweeter, I like this)
1 cup fat free or regular half and half (or nonfat plain yogurt, which is what I used this time since I had it already)
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1.5 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. Chili powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 medium sweet potato (optional)
1 cup pumpkin (optional)
½ tsp. Poultry seasoning
 
Directions

carmelize your onions

In a large soup pot (10-12quarts) chop onion with 1 tsp olive oil. Keep on low heat, and caramelize. Should take about 20 minutes. Once caramelized, add half the broth and all the yogurt, bring to a simmer. Lower temperature to keep warm, but not simmering. Add all spices.

add your spices to the carmelized onions and let toast for a few minutes, stirring constantly

Puree corn in small batches with remaining broth to a paste consistency; add to mixture, stirring occasionally. (lumps are good, leave ‘em)

roasted squash and pureed corn with broth

Add your roasted squash, no skins. Use whisk or spatula or potato masher to break up flesh.  Stir and bring to simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cover for about 20 minutes. Stir in half and half. If need be, add flour to thicken or water to thin.
 
Tip: Use a whisk to incorporate each new ingredient. The whisk will help break up clumps of squash or anything else that enters the soup as a paste. Your goal is to have a well blended soup that still has some chunky consistency, but is well incorporated.
 
Add more spices to taste. Will stay in pot in fridge for up to two weeks. Can freeze if desired. The flavor definitely gets better as the days go on. So my advice, make at least this much (sometimes I double the batch in a huge stock pot.) You’ll thank yourself on day 7 when you can’t stop filling your face with this healthy and hearty Fall staple.

(Here’s a bad picture of our dinner table. I need a new camera, this is a joke!)

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Inspiration: Personal Pies from Our Best Bites

19 Oct

I just stumbled on this great post over at Our Best Bites (highly recommend), for single serving pies, or as I’m calling them “Personal Pies.”

Here are the reasons I’ve come up with so far, that make this one of the top 3 best inventions for Fall:

-Send them to your friends that live far away
-Take a picnic with your significant other, and bring these as desserts
-Have a bunch of friends over, and let everyone make their own, and bake them while you carve pumpkins
-Use up your remaining fruit, assemble a bunch and freeze them for later
-Prepare yourself for a depressing winter by stock piling surprise versions for January, February and March (just seal them tightly and when you go to bake them, you won’t know what you’ve got till they’re done!)
-You get to vary your topping so you can do lattice, crumble, traditional or open!
-Everyone loves some kind of pie, so you can call your friends, find out their fave, make and send for the holidays (or take over to their house and surprise them!)

Oh my gosh, I really love Fall!

Quick, someone find me a pile of leaves to jump in!

Thanks for the great idea, ladies!

“Personal Pies”

Pie in Jar

You’ll need half-pint jars.

Step 1: Pie Dough
The first thing you’ll need is dough. You can use any pie dough you like. (Refer to my recipe for the fruit tart crust, it’s perfect since you just push it into place, no rolling -except for your tops if you want).   Or if you’re really in a pinch, even a store bought crust will do.

Step 2: Make a topper and line the jar
Roll out a small handful of dough. This is just for the tops of your pies, so eyeball about that much. Grab the ring part of your jar and use that as your cookie cutter. Brilliant, right? Cut out the tops and set aside.

Use the rest of the dough to line the jars. (No, you do not need to grease them) The great part is that there’s no rolling required! Just take little pieces and press them in. Make sure it’s pressed all the way up to the top of the jar, or pretty close to it.

Step 3: Fill ‘er up
You’ll need about 1/2 C filling for each jar. You can use any filling your little pie-craving heart desires, even (gasp) canned! You can also use the same method shown in the galette post to use any fruit you happen to have around.

Here’s the basic recipe (for 4 pies)
2 C prepared fruit (pitted, diced, peeled, etc.)
2 T sugar- brown or white (use more or less depending on sweetness of fruit)
2 T flour- (again, more if your fruit is super juicy like cherries, less if it’s pretty dry)
1 T butter (divided between the pies)
Seasonings/flavorings- cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and almond extract, citrus zest etc)

Play around with it and come up with something yummy! I made 2 different pies in my pictures: one, a cut-down version of Kate’s Apple Pie and one with fresh cherries and almond extract.

When your filling is all combined, divide it between the jars and dot a pat of butter on top (about 1/4 T)

Step 4: Top it off
Make sure your “lid” has a vent so steam can escape. You can use a knive to make a couple of slits or a tiny cookie cutter to make it decorative. When your topper is ready, slip it onto the top of the pie. It will be large enough that the outside edge goes up the side of the dough-covered jar a bit. Then use your finger, or a fork, to press the 2 pieces of dough together to seal.

Another option is to do a crumb topping. I put a basic crumb topping on my cherry pies and they were sooo yummy.

Get the hand cuffs: Pumpkin bread/cake

13 Oct

Sometimes in life, something comes along that changes you, truly shakes you to the core.  You can mark chapters in your life by this thing, you remember where you were the first time you saw this thing, and you spend the rest of your life telling everyone you know about this thing – even when the conversation is totally not applicable.

The pumpkin bread/cake I make is one of those things. In fact, it’s “get out the hand cuffs” good, as in, I need to be arrested for making something so delicious and nutritious.  And everyone else needs hand cuffs to stop themselves from eating too much, too quickly.

Brace yourself. If you don’t like to cook with recipes, I totally feel you on this. It’s a very forgiving recipe, but if you can’t bring yourself to bake it, I’ll understand, honest.

For those that feel the need to introduce themselves to a new vice, proceed.

I give you, Pumpkin Bread/Cake (clever name, I know, I know).

Pumpkin Bread/Cake

Pumpkin Bread/Cake

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4:29 PM

Bread/Cake:

1c. Nonfat, plain yogurt

2 & 3/4c. Sugar

3 Eggs

2-2 & 1/2c. Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just plain pumpkin)

3 & 1/2c. Flour (I used gluten free rice flour, it worked like a charm, but any flour will do)

1/2tsp. Baking Soda

1tsp. Cloves

1tsp. Nutmeg

1tsp. All spice

1tsp. Cinnamon

1tsp. Salt

 

Frosting:

8oz. Cream cheese (regular, not nonfat)

1tsp. Vanilla extract

1/2c. Powdered Sugar (add more as needed, after first 1/2c. Is incorporated)

1Tbsp. Butter

 

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar together (can be done by hand, but if with mixer, on medium high for 4 minutes.)
  2. Add eggs
  3. Add pumpkin
  4. Add dry ingredients in 3-4 batches (which you combined first in another bowl)
  5. Grease two baking pans (I used 8×8″ square cake pans, great size, you can also use 2 rounds of 9″, 2 loaf pans of 8.5″ x 4″, or muffin tins, but I wouldn’t use muffin tins…)
  6. Evenly pour batter into pans, and use spoon or rubber spatula to evenly distribute to the corners.
  7. Bake @ 325 for 50 minutes. Check with a toothpick.

 

While it’s baking, mix up your frosting:

  1. Mix room temperature cream cheese and butter till incorporated
  2. Add powdered sugar
  3. Add vanilla
  4. Leave at room temperature to spread on bread/cake
  5. Let bread/cake come to room temperature, preferably overnight before frosting
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