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Saturday, December 29, 2012

The wonder that is Spaghetti Squash


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 I have been wanted to make a recipe with Spaghetti Squash for far too long. Don't know why it took me so long. My sis has been obsessed for awhile, so what better time to make something then when I was visiting her. We made a casserole with ricotta and spinach and it was to die for. It was such a fitting recipe with the spaghetti looking vegetable. Real simple helped us out with the recipe.

It is such an intriguing vegetable to me. Maybe the most intriguing. I don't get how/why it peels away in spaghetti like for. This was my first big thrill of shredding the inside of one!

 It is by far the best of the squashes out there. I will definitely have to have more fun with this ingredient. 

Here is the recipe:
 
Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Ricotta and Spinach

Ingredients:
- 1 spaghetti squash, roughly 3 pounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 15 ounce container of ricotta
- 1 large egg
- 1 box of frozen spinach (or 4 cups baby spinach chopped)
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Drizzle the cut sides with the oil, place cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tender, 40 to 50 minutes. 
 
3. While that is baking, combine the ricotta, egg, spinach, garlic, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
4. With a fork, gently scrape out the strands of flesh.
 
5. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix to combine.
6. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.
 
7. Sprinkle mozzarella to cover the top.
 
8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese starts to crisp.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Irish Brown Bread


 Had some Irish Brown Bread at the Burren, my fave Irish pub down the road a couple weeks ago. My food was tasty, but I couldn’t stop dreaming about that bread. I wanted to make some of my own. I had all the ingredients on hand except buttermilk, which most recipes call for. I knew that the sourness was probably crucial to getting the taste right. I stumbled upon this recipe, which helped me make homemade buttermilk, so that I could be lazy and not go to the store. The bread came out awesome!!

Here’s the recipe:

Irish Brown Bread

Ingredients:
- 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup finely ground old fashioned oats
- 1 1/3 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Make buttermilk by mixing milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and letting it stand until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. (It is kinda of crazy watching this happen!)
3. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
4. Mix in butter until it resembles coarse meal.  I find it is best to use your hands to do this.
5. Add in milk mixture.
6. Stir dough until it is roughly combined then move to a clean surface.
7. Knead dough until it combines into a nice ball.
8. Move ball to a greased cookie sheet and shapen into a round disk.
9. Cut an X into the top, 3/4 inch deep.
10. Bake for roughly an hour. 
11. Let cool on a wire rack after you have cut off one end to enjoy :)

This bread is going to be awesome all week for quick breakfast as well as on the side of the chili I made!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Candy Cane Cake Truffles

While the whole cake pop/cake truffle craze has been going on, don’t think that I haven’t thought about making some. I don’t know how I let it go this long, but I finally made some. I dreamed up a recipe of my own with the standard concept. Feast your eyes on this Christmas Treat: Candy Cane Cake Truffles.

I brought them to a Christmas party and they were a hit. All 50 were devoured!

The recipes is below. Just to warn you this is a lengthy and messy process. I make the cake the day before to space out the work. I also went along with most recipes and used store bought boxes of cake mix and frosting. Not my usually style, but I didn't object to how they came out tasting.

t had been planning on making truffles all along. (I'm not that impressed with eating things on sticks.) I feel truffles sound way more classy then pops. But my plan was to make them more like a pop using a toothpick to dip. I would then after they hardened pull out the toothpick creating perfectly circular balls. This did not go as planned. They were falling right off the toothpick. So alas, I made these messy globs I would like to call truffles. They didn't have the exact presentation I would have liked, but tasted gosh darn good. If you figure out how to make them prettier, let me know!

Candy Cane Cake Truffles

Ingredients:
- 1 box of vanilla cake mix (follow recipe)
- 1 jar of vanilla frosting
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 box of candy canes crushed up
- 1 bag of white candy melts or white chocolate chips

Directions: 
1. Bake cake following directions from box.
2. Crumble cake into a large bowl. (I cut off any areas on the side top or bottom that got too hard. I figured they would ruin the shape and texture of the balls.)
3. Add peppermint extract to frosting. 
4. Combine frosting and half of the crushed candy canes with the cake crumbles.
5. Shape into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet. 
6. After all balls are made put in the freezer for about an hour.
7. Set up a make shift double boiler or use a real one if you are that cool, to melt chocolate.
8. Take out 3 balls at a time to dip. (Don't take them all out at once or they will come back to room temp and not be sturdy.
9. Use a fork to dip each cake ball and cover with chocolate. My method was to dip, roll the ball around, retrieve it with a fork, tap the fork on the side of the bowl to let some excess drip off, then coerce onto the cookie sheet.
10. Sprinkle a spoonful of crush peppermint over the top.
11. Let stand until chocolate sets.

Store them in an airtight tupperware. You can leave them out at room temp, or put them in the fridge. I prefer the fridge because it keep the inside harder.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Vegetarian Day

Tomorrow, I will celebrate Thanksgiving the traditional way, but today it is a day of getting in tune with my vegetarian side. 

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I whipped up a vegetarian Sheppard's Pie with the help of this hilarious website's recipe.  My family was quite pleased with how it came out. I followed the recipe as is, but next time I think I will try making a lighter gravy from scratch. I have never been a big sauce person and the dark color of this gravy esp. freaked me out. The recipe called for Gravy Master, which I thought sounded creepy and was skeptical. Next time I will try without the master.

Here's the recipe:

Vegetarian Sheppard’s Pie

Ingredients:

For Mashed Potatoes:
- 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered length-wise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tbsp heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp milk
For Gravy:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Handful of chopped onion
- 4 tablespoons of gravy master
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
For Filling: 
-1 can of red kidney beans
- 1/2 bag of frozen peas
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
-1 onion, chopped
- Seasonings (I used salt, pepper, parsley, and paprika)

Directions:
1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender and then drain.
2. Combine warm cream and melted butter with the potatoes and mash them up.
3. Lastly add milk and season them to taste. I added salt and pepper, as well as some paprika and parsley, but you do your thing.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Put mash aside and start the gravy by melting butter in a saucepan and adding in onion and garlic. Cook until onions are golden.
6. Stir in the flour and whisk until it makes a paste and becomes smooth.
7. Add in vegetable broth and gravy master, alternating a little bit at a time. Stir and cook until gravy is thickened.
8. Next cook the carrots and onions in a sauté pan.
9. Add in the peas and kidney beans.
10. Finally stir in gravy.
11. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and then cover with mashed potatoes.
12. Cook for 35 minutes.
13. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Caramel lovers here is one for you.
 
It has been far too long since I have made cupcakes. This recipe incorporates my new favorite apple cider cake into cute cup form and paired with, what better sweet, then caramel.

I made my apple cider bread recipe as is. The recipe yielded 22 cupcakes.
The caramel frosting I made tasted devine. Super sweet and caramel-ly, but it didn’t allow for the presentation I was hoping for. I really like to pile on frosting. This frosting had a more sticky consistency and didn’t have enough body to withstand heights. Caramel is such a sticky texture I don’ t know if this would be possible.

Here’s the recipe for the frosting:

Caramel Frosting:

Ingredients:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Directions:
1. Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. 
2. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until syrup turns deep amber color. (This took a lot longer then I was expecting. Be patient.)
3. Remove from heat and add cream.
4. Put back over low heat and stir until caramel bits dissolve. 
5. In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks
6. Gradually whisk hot caramel into yolks.
7. Let this cool to room temperature.
8. Using electric mixer, beat butter and salt in large bowl until smooth. 
9. Add in caramel then powdered sugar and beat until smooth
10. Let stand for about an hour or put in the fridge to frost later.

(Frosting recipe was thanks to Bon Appetit.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spinach and Eggplant Lasagna

So I have been into making homemade pasta lately and as you are making it, before you cut it up into shapes you have these long strip......
Each time I make it and it is at this state, I think of how good it would be to have homemade pasta noodles in lasagna! So today I did just that. Here is my recipe for Eggplant and Spinach Lasagna:

Ingredients:
- 1 serving of homemade pasta rolled into strips
- 3/4 cups of ricotta
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
- 1/2 package of frozen spinach
- 1 eggplant
- salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven for 375 degrees
2. Cut up eggplant in slices, place on baking sheets, and sprinkle with salt on both sides.
3. Let them sweat for 15 minutes, then pat dry with a towel.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping over half way through.
5. While eggplant is in the over, follow these directions for making homemade pasta noodles.
6. Boil water and cook noodles for 1 minute. (I did not do this, but would next time around. I thought I could get away with not cooking the noodles since fresh noodles cook so quickly. The noodles inside were done, but the top layer came out crunchy, so better to cook them to an al dente state.)
7. Set noodles aside on a drying rack.
8. Defrost spinach in the microwave as stated on package.
9. In a bowl combine ricotta, Parmesan, and seasonings.
10. Next it is time to construct your layers. In a square casserole dish, start layering ingredients: pasta, cheese mixture, eggplant, Asiago shreds, repeat. I did this three times topping finally with pasta and just shredded cheese.
 
11. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
 
I was pretty happy with how this turned out. When I have made lasagna before I have had a béchamel sauce layer in there as well. I think it was fine without, but would be even better with this included. There is always next time!



Friday, November 2, 2012

New obsession: Apple Cider Oatmeal

Ok, I have been totally obsessed with all things apple this season and just found a new apple obsession: making oatmeal with cider as the liquid. I have had it everyday for breakfast this week! It is amazing and the cider is already sweetened enough that you don't have to add anything else. So simple! I have made it on the stove and also as overnight oatmeal. Both are devine!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Acorn Squash Raviolis

Quintessential fall cooking includes apples, pumpkin, and squash. The first I’m obsessed with (scroll down to previous posts), the second I highly detest, the third is debatable. I hate butternut squash. It falls in the same category as pumpkin to me. I like my sweetness in dessert, not savory foods. But other squashes aren’t as bad. I have been trying to branch out and have bought a few acorn squashes lately. Tonight I made homemade acorn squash raviolis. They came out good, but I have decided I’m just not that into acorn squash. I think this will be my last time playing with one. As I ate my ravs, I was wishing they were just plain cheese. Anyways, those into squash, I think would really like these and should try them out.
Acorn Squash Raviolis:
(Based on my original ravioli recipe I learned at The Brooklyn Kitchen.)

Ingredients for dough:
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1/8 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon EVOO
- a pinch of salt

Ingredients for the filling:
- 1/2 acorn squash
- 1/4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. On a flat surface, make a mound of flour and create a hole in the center.
2. Crack the egg in the center and start slowly mixing with a fork. Slowly incorporate the flour in, a little at a time.
3. When it starts looking like a pancake batter, add in the water, oil, and salt and continue mixing in my floor from the walls.
4. When the walls are almost gone, I used my handy dandy plastic cutter to chop in the rest of the flour, folding over from each side.
5. Once the flour is almost all combined in, drop the fork and start using your hands to knead the dough.
6. Work it gently by folding the dough in half and pressing down on it away fro you, turn it 90 degrees and repeat; Do this until you have a smooth ball.
7. Cover in plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
8. While waiting for the dough, combine all your filling ingredients together in the food processor and set aside. 
9. Split your dough ball in two.
10. Flatten out with your hand and then either roll it out with a rolling pin or using a pasta machine.
11. Fold your flat dough over and perforate a crease at the center.
12. Place spoonfuls of filling roughly an inch apart.
13. With your finger, paint water around each filling pile to act as the glue.
14. Carefully fold over dough covering each ball making sure to push out all air from each pocket.
15. Cut to the desired size.
 (There are usually scraps leftover, which are perfect more making a little batch of spaghetti on the side!) 

16. Depending on the thickness these will take 2-3 minutes to cook and should start floating when ready.
17. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Staples of my life: Granola and Peanut Butter

Just because I haven't been posting, doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. I just haven't been making anything shiny and new to share. 

I have made more of my favorites like tropical granola.
I was running low on peanut butter and because I am crazy, I must always have some in my cupboard in order to not have feeling of anxiety come over me. I was feeling lazy and didn't feel like going out, so I whip up some of my own. Yum. This will last a week.
If you have never made some at home, it is super easy and you must try it. 

Honey Peanut Butter

Ingredients:
- 2 cups of salted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon honey
Directions:
1. Dump the peanuts into your food processor  and let it do its thing!

That's it! As it is going, you may have a moment of skeptism thinking it won't ever get smooth. Be patient. It takes a long time; probably a good 3 minutes. I like to use salted peanuts. One time I bought unsalted peanut butter thinking it was healthier. This was really dumb because then I just found myself salting my sandwich. I also added in a tablespoon of honey for some extra goodness!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baked Macaroni and Cheese for one

Rather then making a big casserole and living off the same meal all week, today I mad an itty bitty casserole perfect size for 1! My mom has this Best Mac and Cheese Ever recipe, which is pretty good. It has mustard in it which freaks me out, but it isn’t that bad actually! I kind of used her recipe to influence my ratios, but totally made this up as I went along. It came out super tasty and I want you all to try it! I added in flavor with some nutmeg and a bay leaf. Topping off with Italian breadcrumbs.
Here’s the recipe:
Macaroni and Cheese for one

Ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leave
- 3/4 cup gruyere
- 1 cup pasta (I used whole wheat)
- breadcrumbs, for sprinkling on top



Directions:
1. Boil water for cooking pasta.
2. Cook pasta until it is al dente (about 5 minutes)
3. To start your cheese sauce, add the butter into a separate pot.
4. Once melted, stir in flour and add in the bay leaf; remember to keep stirring.
5. Add in the milk a little at a time; always stirring; as the sauce thickens add a little more.
6. Add in the spices.
 
7. Add in the milk a little at a time; always stirring; as the sauce thickens add a little more.
8. Once all is combined and thick remove from heat and stir in cheese.
9. Next add in pasta.
10. Transfer into a baking dish.
11. Sprinkle bread crumb over the top.
12. Bake for 40 minutes.
13. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gotta use up the cider.

So I ate all my cider bread way too fast and wanted more so 4 days later I find myself back at it baking another. I really loved the recipe I used Saturday, but felt like trying out another. I followed one from Yankee Magazine. It came out tasty as well. It is a little lighter and not quite as dense and pound cake like, which is nice. I think the first recipe still wins though. I didn’t have enough white sugar left, so I used brown sugar instead. I made it in two mini loaves, which are just adorable. 
Here’s the recipes:

Apple Cider Bread #2

Ingredients:
- 3/8 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 eggs
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/3 cups apple cider
- 1 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.
3. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
4. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl
5. Add dry mixture and cider to sugar butter, alternating a little of each at a time
6. Once mixed thoroughly, shovel half the batter into a greased loaf pan.
7. Add a layer of cut apples
8. Top off with the remaining batter.
9. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
10. Enjoy!

Now I have more lovely breakfast to look forwards to. Fuel for my runs!