Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Moving Day!

I'm moving over to a NEW BLOG!

Blogger isn't cooperating at the moment so I can't export all my old entries to Word Press. All entries will stay here for the time being. Hopefully I'll get it all worked out soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday.


Tuesdays with Dorie - Florida Pie


I start getting excited every Sunday night, not because the husband goes back to work the next day and I get the house ALL TO MYSELF, but because I know it's almost time for the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe to be posted. The week was extra exciting because the chosen recipe was Florida Pie!

I lived in Florida for quite a few years but I'd never heard of Florida Pie. Weird right? It turns out that it's basically a key lime pie with a layer of coconut cream and some more coconut folded into the meringue. And let me tell you, I love me some key lime pie.


The recipe was chosen by Dianne of Dianne's Dishes and I think this might be my favorite yet. Yeah, I know I've said that at least twice before but this one is seriously the best.

The only bad part about this recipe was all the limes I had to squeeze. I swear I went through 30 of them before I had enough juice. I even tried to recruit the husband but he managed to tune out all my yelling.

I had initially planned on doing whipped cream instead of a meringue because I'm still a little burnt out from the lemon meringue pie I made in January, but I gave the husband a choice between the two and he chose meringue.

The recipe was very simple although I had one screw up. Dorie calls for 1 1/2 cups of coconut DIVIDED and well, we know how this ends. I put all of it into the cream. It turned out fine though. I'm just lucky that my family loves coconut.

Dorie mentions in her recipe that she usually uses a store-bought graham cracker crust and since it's good enough for her, I decided it was good enough for me. I used the tiny ones and ended up with 11 little pies. Luckily my mom's birthday was this weekend so I passed some on to her and my dad.

Thank you to Dianne for choosing a great recipe!

Florida Pie
from: Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 9-inch graham cracker crust (page 235), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, seperated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 cup of sugar

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.

Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.

Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue:

Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.

Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Florentine Mac & Cheese with Turkey Sausage Meatballs

This recipe seems to be going around the blogworld lately and everyone's been raving about it. But it's a Rachael recipe.

I decided to give it a chance anyway because it seemed pretty basic. Just macaroni and cheese made with parmesan and spinach, with some meatballs. (She used ground chicken, I went turkey.)

We LOVED it. Landon gobbled up an entire bowl which shocked me like you wouldn't believe. My kid ate spinach! woo. Even Spencer liked it although he did tell me to cut back on the spinach next time.

Just as a warning: it made a ton of food. I filled up two containers of leftover pasta and another container of meatballs. She had to have made her meatballs huge to get only 8 of them!

Florentine Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage Meatballs
from Food Network

1 pound cavatappi corkscrew shaped hallow pasta
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
Black pepper
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
1 egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs, plus more, if needed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 boxes, 10 ounces, chopped frozen spinach
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta. When it comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta to cook to al dente. Strain pasta reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

While the water is coming to a boil, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano - a rounded handful, egg and bread crumbs. *If the mixture seems too wet, add a handful of bread crumbs and mix together.

Form 8 large round balls, about 3 to 4-inches. Coat balls in a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange balls on the baking sheet and roast 17 to 18 minutes until juices run clear.

Defrost spinach in microwave 8 to 10 minutes on "defrost" setting depending on the microwave. Place the boxes in a shallow dish to catch any run off.

While the meatballs roast, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter, whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and thicken 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano and reduce heat on lowest setting.

Wring spinach completely dry in clean kitchen towel then separate as you add it to the sauce. Also add the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Toss pasta with the spinach-white sauce and adjust seasonings.

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole.

Lately I've been kind of obsessed with polenta. I keep planning meals with polenta but then I get scared that Spencer will hate it so I forget that idea and order pizza. When I saw this recipe for polenta lasagna on Simply Recipes I promised myself that I'd actually make it. I mean, it has sausage and we love sausage.

This was my first time using my broiler. Scary scary. I had no idea how to even turn it on but I eventually figured it out and all was well. I've even used the broiler a couple times since then so I'd say I successfully conquered my fear.

Once Spencer got over the idea of eating "grits with spaghetti sauce" he liked it. Not enough to eat leftovers, but he didn't complain. Landon and I both enjoyed it and finished off the whole pan within a couple days.

I won't make it again since Spencer wasn't a huge fan but if I was going to, I'd cut back on the polenta. I made my own with 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal and about 6 cups of chicken broth and it was way too much. I think a cup of cornmeal would be a good amount.

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole

5 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 med yellow onion, halved lengthwise then cut into wedges
1 medium bell pepper (red, green, orange or yellow), cut lengthwise into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound Italian sausage (removed from casings), sweet or spicy
2 pounds of prepared polenta, 1/2-inch slices if using prepared polenta in a tube
1/2 pound (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch slices

Preheat oven broiler on high. Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a 2-3 qt saucepan on medium heat. Add tomatoes and oregano, simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.

While the tomatoes are cooking, in a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, stirring and breaking it into small pieces as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Cover the pan and cook until vegetables are tender and the sausage is cooked through, about 5-8 more minutes. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, coat the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan with a 1 Tbsp oil. Add the cooked polenta (or slices) to the pan. Coat the top of the polenta with the remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil. Broil the polenta about 4 inches from the heating element until golden brown and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.

Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange Mozzarella slices over the top and return the casserole to the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Man food.

In my almost 2 years of marriage I've learned that sometimes I have to cook things that aren't pretty or that I don't think I'll like in order to keep the man happy.

The husband has a strange love of nachos. He gets nachos when we go to movies, he makes special trips to Applebees just for their big basket of nachos (and I sip my strawberry mojito while he eats all of them), and he'll even make his own rotel dip.

This past weekend we went to Chili's because I'm kind of in love with their honey-chipotle chicken crispers and he, of course, ordered their nacho appetizer. Well it came with 8 or 9 "nachos" and it was basically just tortilla chips with melted cheese on top. Needless to say, he was disappointed.

I went on a search for good nachos for him and found a recipe on Tammy's Recipes. It turned out great. I was shocked at how simple and good it was. I will say though that I had to add quite a bit more cumin and chili powder, along with some cayenne. But the end result was much better than I expected and the husband was very excited to come home to nachos.

(I apologize for the picture. Like I said, it's not a pretty dish.)

Morrocan-Style Chicken Phyllo Rolls with Spiced Tomato Sauce

I saw this recipe over on Love and Olive Oil a couple months ago, put it in my bookmarks, and then completely forgot about it. Then last week I was in a big funk and couldn't come up with anything to cook. I stared into my freezer for what seemed like hours and then spotted some phyllo. Ding ding ding! I had everything on hand for this recipe except turmeric (which ended up costing me almost $8! Ridiculous.) so onto the meal plan it went.

The recipe seemed pretty simple to me. I mean, it's just chicken with a bunch of spiced rolled in phyllo. Easy enough, right? Wrong. It took me HOURS. And then I made the mistake of tasting the chicken mixture before I rolled it up and almost cried. It was not good at all. I kept going with it though because I had to have something ready for the husband when he walked through the door.

So Spencer walked in and I immediately warned him that dinner was going to suck and he might as well turn around and hit McDonald's. But he tried a phyllo roll. And then another. And then 8 more. Let me tell you, these things are addictive. They were delicious! The two of us went through almost all of them over the course of the night. The spiced tomato sauce that was served with them was good too but I think the rolls are best alone.

Moroccan-Style Chicken Phyllo Rolls

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Scant teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/4 lb chicken thighs (with skin and bones)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
8 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

Make filling:
Cook onion in oil along with salt, cumin, ginger, turmeric, pepper, and coriander in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken, broth, water, and cinnamon stick and simmer, covered, turning chicken over once, until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes total. Transfer chicken with tongs to a bowl, reserving cooking liquid.

When cool enough to handle, shred chicken, discarding skin and bones, and transfer to a large bowl. Transfer cooking liquid to a 2-cup glass measure (do not clean saucepan) and let stand 1 minute, then skim off fat and discard cinnamon stick. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over moderately high heat, uncovered, until reduced to about 1/4 cup (liquid will look like a glaze in bottom of pan), about 8 minutes, then stir into shredded chicken along with almonds.

Reserve 2 tablespoons beaten egg in a cup for egg wash. Lightly season remaining egg with salt and pepper, then cook in 1/2 tablespoon butter in an 8- to 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until just set but still slightly soft. Stir scrambled egg into filling.

Make rolls:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.

Put 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface, keeping remaining phyllo covered with overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel, and brush generously with some melted butter. Evenly sift 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon over buttered phyllo using a fine-mesh sieve, then top with another phyllo sheet and generously brush with butter.

Halve buttered phyllo stack crosswise, then arrange 1 half with a long side nearest you. Spread 1/4 cup chicken filling in a narrow strip along edge nearest you, then roll up filling tightly in phyllo, leaving ends open. Transfer roll, seam side down, to a cutting board set inside a baking pan (to help contain mustard seeds when sprinkling). Make another roll with remaining half stack. Make 6 more rolls in same manner, transferring to cutting board.

Lightly brush top of rolls with egg wash and immediately sprinkle with mustard seeds, pressing lightly on seeds to help adhere. Cut each roll crosswise into 4 pieces and arrange pieces 1 inch apart on 2 baking sheets. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until phyllo is golden brown, about 12 minutes total.

Transfer rolls to a rack to cool slightly.

Cooks' notes:
• Rolls can be assembled (but not coated or cut) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
• Rolls can be assembled and cut (but not coated or baked) 2 weeks ahead and frozen, wrapped well in plastic wrap. Coat frozen rolls, then bake (do not thaw) in a preheated 350°F oven about 20 minutes.

Spiced Tomato Sauce

1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of ground cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 (14 1/2- to 15-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped (reserving juice)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Cook onion, garlic, ginger, and spices in oil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and simmer over moderately low heat 1 minute. Add tomatoes (with juice) and brown sugar, then increase heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Purée sauce in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Serve at room temperature.

Cooks' note:
Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and cooled completely, then chilled, covered.

Amano Chocolates!

Look what the Fed Ex man brought me yesterday! Ahh! Now if only I could come up with something amazing to do with them.

Thank you Blake and Amano for being so generous!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie - Peanut Butter Torte


This week Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food chose Peanut Butter Torte as our Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Unfortunately it just wasn't my week. I was overwhelmed and the recipe just seemed like too much to add to my list. I really want to try this recipe eventually so you might see it on here one day.

In the meantime, head over to the blogroll and check out all the lovely tortes.

(PS. Is "tortes" the correct way to say that?)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pineapple Coconut Mini Muffins

Last week I was standing in Target trying to decide which kitchen gadget to buy next when I remembered that Joelen's Tasty Tools event this month is about scoops. I used that as an excuse to buy my very first shiny scoop.

Next step was finding a recipe. I initially wanted to do cookies, but couldn't find a recipe that didn't involve me running to the store. So muffins it was.

My baking cabinet is looking pretty thin these days. I had an assortment of dried fruit, a bag of m&ms, and some coconut. Dried pineapple and coconut sounded like a good match so I (gasp) decided to try to come up with my own recipe.

They turned out pretty good. Everytime I use dried pineapple I'm reminded that I really don't like it. But the kid does so he's been eating these for breakfast every morning.

Pineapple Coconut Muffins

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried pineapple, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Spray (and line if you'd like) a muffin pan.

Whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until well blended. Add applesauce, egg, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture and beat until just blended. Stir in coconut and pineapple.

Use scoop to put equal amounts of batter into each cup. Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Make sure you check out the Tasty Tools event and get your entry in by May 2!