Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Soup and good company

I have been very excited to try the Barefoot Bloggers recipe this week. This soup is something both myself and husband love. It brings back memories of the food we ate in Tuscany last year. It is a very satisfying, thick soup called Pappa Al Pomidoro. Natalie of Burned Bits chose this recipe and it can be found in the new Back to Basics cookbook on page 68.
My in-laws came for a week long visit and this is what I made for them. They really enjoyed it as well. We finished off most of the pot at one meal : ) I made chicken Parmesan meatballs to go along with the soup and added a crisp salad. I also wanted a little more garlic and roasted a head of garlic to add to the soup if people chose too. The topping was a mixture of croutons, basil, bacon (pancetta)and Parmesan cheese. It was perfection the way that Ina added the topping to this soup. It makes all the diffence to me! This is one of my new favorites and will be made again and again in our house! Thanks Natalie!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Warm Corn Chowder on a rainy day

Crab and Corn Chowder

This month's Barefoot Blogger's Bonus Recipe was selected by Becky of Random Musings of a Deco Lady, Ina's Savory Palmiers. This recipe appears in the Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, Ina's Gartens newest Cookbook. These were so good and addicting. I love Puff Pastry. It is so easy to work with. I loved the flaky pastry and layers of cheese, sun dried tomatoes and pesto. I can see why people chose to half the recipe. This made allot of appetizers.

For my Tyler Florence Fridays I decided to make chowder. Its been really rainy today and chowder sounded so good. I made his recipe for Corn Chowder and modified it by adding 8 oz crab at the end. This was a great all in 1 dinner. I made Grandma's Buns (courtesy of my friend Krista)to serve alongside it. My husband esp. loved it and ate 3 huge bowls. This is definitely a keeper. I bought aged White Cheddar cheese and grated on the top of each bowl. I loved the creamy texture from the potatoes (you boil them in the cream and chicken broth) and the crunchy corn. Check out what everyone else decided to make at http://tylerflorencefridays.blogspot.com/ This is where I found the recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/corn-chowder-recipe/index.html

Monday, December 22, 2008

Coq Au Vin with Barefoot Bloggers

This weekend I decided to try to make the Barefoot Contessa recipe for Coq Au Vin. This dish is a cross between a rich stew and thicker soup. I have made this once before years ago and remember enjoying it. This time was a different experience for me. I made it for our neighborhood progressive dinner. I thought it would be a great cold winters night dish and would stay warm until dinner time. My problem was with the color of the chicken. I took the skin off the chicken in the end and all of my chicken turned deep purple. I don't remember that happening last time. I was really embarrassed with the color of the meat. We kept the lights dim for our dinner on Saturday night. I made the roasted pear and blue cheese salad (also from the new cookbook) to go along with it. I loved the salad but the soup was just ok. My husband was the only one that really enjoyed this dish and had seconds. I won't be trying my hand at this again. Coq Au Vin was chosen by Bethany of this little piggy went to market and can be found in Back to Basics on page 116. I can't wait to read about everyone else's experience! The only change that I made was to omit the pearl onions and add some roasted onions at the end. There were several people that don't like onions at the party.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Muffins Muffins and more Muffins

This week I had to make a couple dozen muffins for my sons Holiday party in the morning. I found a recipe from Tyler Florence for Banana Nut Muffins. I chose recipe for my Fridays with Tyler Florence cooking group.http://tylerflorencefridays.blogspot.com/ My daughter and I had so much fun making these together. She is quite the helper and wanted to do allot of it herself this time. These are super easy and tasted great. The only change I did was to omit nuts because of food allergies. I also made a batch of pumpkin and cranberry muffins with caramel frosting. These were also good.
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Show: How To Boil WaterEpisode: The Family That Cooks Together
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Candy

I love making candy and baking during the Holidays. I guess I love to do that all year long but during the Holidays I have a reason too. I am always on the look out for new candy recipes that are simple and turn out! You don't want to know how many batches of toffee I have thrown away in my life, because of it crystallizing on me... My sister shared this recipe with me today. She found it on a blog that she reads. After I saw the few ingredients I made it. I can see why she loved it. It has such a great flavour and is so good. It takes 3 minutes to make! What a great teachers gift this will be. I made just a few changes. I added some butterscotch chips in with the chocolate and used smooth Peanut butter instead of chunky.
Rocky Road
8x8 pan
line with wax paper
3 cups semi-sweet chips
3 T butter
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 package marshmallows
Melt together chocolate, butter, peanut butter. Add small amount to pan. Fill pan with marshmallows and pour remaining melted chocolate over the top. Refrigerate 2-3 hours. Turn onto cutting board and cut into squares.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend Trip to Chicago

An indoor Christmas festival at Navy Pier!
They had tons of trees decorated in themes and
Santa's from all over the world dressed in there
traditional costumes. It was very interesting reading about the Christmas traditions of other

This last week we celebrated our 11Th Anniversary. Nothing could beat our 10 year Anniversary trip to Paris (did I mention our friends kept our kids) so we decided to take a family trip to Chicago. The last time we got to see Chicago was when we drove through on our way to Germany over 3 years ago. It was so much fun to spend the weekend in the "Windy City". We stayed downtown and enjoyed a beautiful view of the city. We had a list of places to visit on our short trip. We did make it to the American Girl Store for Anna. She loved seeing it all. We strolled Michigan Avenue along with hundreds of other shoppers. What a fun place to window shop! We also got to see Navy Pier all decorated for Christmas. On our walk to the Pier we found the coolest gourmet market called Fox & Obel Market Café Catering Gourmet Chicago. We had great Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordanos for dinner. Our picky son loved it and claimed it to be the best pizza ever. It wasn't as far as we thought and took 4.5 hours to get there. We have missed vacations since moving back to the States. It was a great family weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chocolate and more

It is now Winter in Ohio! Our kids were so excited to shovel the side walk in front of our house.
I received a special package in the mail yesterday from my Mom. Among the many goodies she sent, there was also enclosed a huge bar of melting chocolate. I guess she knows how much I love baking. I needed to make a dessert for our Home Group tonight. I chose Ina Gartens Outrageous Brownies. I halved the recipe since it makes so many brownies. This is one of the fastest recipes to make and you don't even need the Kitchen Aide! I did add the nuts to half the pan of brownies. I hope I can remember which side they are on.... I also chopped up some Chocolate covered Espresso beans and added them to the batter. I find they are best served cold with a tall glass of milk or 3 if you are my kids. I hope you enjoy these like we do : -)
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sugar Cookies

Tuesdays come around so fast! Ulrike of Küchenlatein is hosting this weeks and she chose Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies . The recipe looked easy and I was excited to try this cookie but after hosting a cookie exchange on Sunday I was a little burnt out from making cookies. I made and sampled way too many. I decided to do them for my BS class on Tuesday morning. I loved this recipe. I had the same problem with the dough being too soft but I kept freezing it. These were easy to work with and tasted great, I thought they had the perfect balance between buttery and crisp. I made an almond butter cream and used lots of sprinkles. I hope everyone else had fun with these too!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fridays with Florence

Chicken salad with chunks of celery, apples, and finely diced onion.
I decided to join yet another cooking group called Tyler Florence Fridays! I get to choose the recipe each week and post about it. I have lots of his cookbooks and need to start using them. I thought this would be a good way for me to try new recipes from his books. I am hosting a cookie exchange on Sunday and was looking for a good recipe for the chicken salad. I found this and couldn't wait to try it. I didn't poach the chicken with his recipe but used my own recipe. I made the cranberry sauce and chicken salad (am adding nuts on Sunday) but will finish these before my party.
Poached Chicken:
3 chicken breast
1 quart water
Bring to boil and then put lid on pan and turn off burner and let sit for 30 minutes.
For the Chicken Salad:
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Kosher salt
About 1 cup mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 celery stalks, small diced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves plus sprigs, for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded chicken meat, roughly chopped
8 slices sourdough bread, cut 1/2-inch thick
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 pound brie
1 green apple, thinly sliced
For the Poached Chicken:
Shred the chicken meat.
For the Chicken Salad:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Roughly chop the walnuts and then gently toast in a dry skillet over medium heat until they brown and are slightly fragrant. Season walnuts with salt once they are finished toasting. Add the walnuts, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, celery, parsley, olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a large mixing bowl and combine. Fold in the shredded chicken and set aside while you prepare the bread.
Toast the bread in a hot oven until golden. Smear each piece with a little butter and then a tablespoon of cranberry sauce over 4 of the pieces. Lay the 4 cranberry-smeared pieces out on a sheet tray and top each piece with 2 to 3 slices of thick-cut brie. Pop this back in the oven for a minute or 2 so the cheese is slightly melted and creamy. Remove from the oven and top with a few slices of green apple. Top with a scoop of the chicken salad and cover with the other half of the bread to complete the sandwich. Serve.

Trying New Things

This past year has been a year of change. We moved from a huge running community to an area that does not have the biking and running trails...