Monday, February 28, 2011

#15 - Salmon Baked in Foil

Remember how we said we've been trying to have more fish lately? Well, since the last few times we've made fish it's gone in some sort of pasta, we decided to try something else this time.

Salmon Baked in Foil

From Everyday Italian
This recipe is pretty straightforward and doesn't call for too many crazy ingredients. And you can replace the fresh herbs with dried ones if you don't want to spend too much time a) at the store and b) chopping oregano.
The first thing you do is chop up some tomatoes and shallots, and toss with fresh herbs and olive oil and lemon juice.
It smells really good, but don't taste it as is because of the lemon juice.
Then you put the salmon on a piece of foil, cover it with the tomatoes, wrap and pop in the oven. And that's it. Simple, huh?
And oh my goodness, for being so easy to make, this fish was delicious. We made some mashed potatoes and peas while the salmon was cooking, and we had a really nice complete meal done in less than an hour start to finish.

And with Lent coming up, we're going to have to try this out again soon on a Friday.
Here's the recipe:
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 Tbs + 2 tsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (3/4 tsp if dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (3/4 tsp if dried)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 salmon fillets (6 oz each)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 2 Tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  3. Lay out four sheets of aluminum foil, and spoon 1/2 tsp olive oil in the middle of each.
  4. Place one salmon fillet on top of the oil and turn to coat.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper over all of the salmon.
  6. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fillets.
  7. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely, and seal the packets closed.
  8. Place packets on a large baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Carefully transfer the foil packets to plates, open and serve the fish using a large metal spatula.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#14 - Banana Cupcakes

Teachers love professional days without students. They also love to find any excuse for a party. The only thing teachers love more than parties without students is cupcakes. When Emily was put in charge of desserts for tomorrow's surprise baby shower for the male gym teacher, she knew that cupcakes were the way to go.

Once we knew we were making cupcakes, we turned to our trusty cute cakes blog, and here's what we found.

Banana Cupcakes

From Bakerella
Most people would make a chocolate or vanilla cupcake, but we went out on a limb and made banana cupcakes because bananas are delicious and babies love bananas. There were no babies at the baby shower, but adults love bananas too.
As you know, we love our Kitchen Aid, and it had double duty today, making first the cupcake batter, and then the frosting.
We've watched enough Paula Deen (y'all) on Food Network to know a few tricks when it comes to sweet goodness, and one thing we decided to try out here was using an ice cream scooper to get nice, even fills in each cup.
The best part of a cupcake is what's on top, and this recipe called for a yellow cream cheese icing. We liked the yellow because bananas are yellow and because baby showers when you don't know the gender of the baby are yellow. And cupcakes for a baby shower when you find out the gender of the baby the day before but after you already committed to banana-flavored turn out yellow too.
Emily's always wanted to use a piping bag, and she finally got her wish with this one. Check out her handiwork; she'll be working at Georgetown Cupcake in no time.
Oh my gosh, these cupcakes were incredible. They tasted like bananas which everyone loves. And despite having a whole box of confectioner's sugar in the icing, they were oddly not sweet at all. We're hoping it's someone's birthday soon so we can make these cupcakes again.
Make these now:
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla, divided
  • 1 large ripe banana, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb confectioner’s sugar
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Star sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tray with 12 baking cups.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl with a wire whisk.
  3. Cream the unsalted butter and sugar in a mixer for about four minutes.
  4. Add the banana and mix until combined.
  5. Add the eggs and 1 tsp vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the milk, and scrape the sides.
  7. Repeat until all the flour and milk has been added.
  8. Scoop the batter into the baking cups.
  9. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until done.
  10. Cream the salted butter and cream cheese in a mixer until thoroughly combined.
  11. Add 1 tsp vanilla.
  12. Add the confectioner's sugar in small batches until combined and creamy.
  13. Add yellow food coloring to frosting and mix until the frosting is the desired color.
  14. Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and decorate with star sprinkles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#13 - Quiche Lorraine with Ligabue Salad

A quick and easy meal we sometimes like to make is this arugula, bean, and tuna salad that we first had at Piola. Not only is it healthy, easy, and tasty, what really sold us was the name - Ligabue.

But since it is just a salad, we normally like to have quiche to go with it. Until today, we've settled for store bought Giant brand quiche that we plop in the oven. Today, though, we decided to go for glory.

Quiche Lorraine

From Joy of Cooking
As we've mentioned before, we sometimes get our produce from our CSA. Not only do we get fruits and veggies, we can also get farm-fresh eggs too. So not only did we get some baby arugula for the Ligabue, we got a dozen eggs that looked perfect for our quiche.
And we could almost make the whole quiche with just this one egg. Look at the size of this thing!
Since it is still a weeknight, we didn't have the energy/ambition/courage to make our own pie crust from scratch, so we used a store bought crust that we just had to pre-bake for a little bit before filling.
Supposedly, Quiche Lorraine isn't supposed to have cheese - just bacon - but we decided to go with a more modern version and added some Swiss. Because who doesn't love cheese? And Wikipedia says its okay.
For being such an easy thing to make, it came out really delicious. It makes us wonder if we'll ever buy a Giant quiche again. And paired with our Ligabue salad, it was a great meal.

It really was easy, so maybe next time we'll attempt to make our own crust too. But probably not during the workweek.
Here's the recipe for the quiche, and even though we didn't take pictures of us making the salad, the recipe for the Ligabue too:

Quiche Lorraine
  • 1 pre-made pie crust
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 oz bacon
  • 2 cups milk or cream
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Shape the pie crust dough into a 9-inch pie pan, and cook according to the directions on the box for a pre-baked, one-crust filled pie.
  3. While still warm, brush the baked crust with the egg yolk.
  4. Chop bacon into 1 inch parts and cook over medium heat, and set aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  6. Sprinkle the bacon and Swiss cheese on the bottom of the pie crust.
  7. Pour the custard mixture over the bacon and cheese.
  8. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Ligabue Salad
  • 1 lb arugula
  • 1 15.5oz can of cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 7oz can of tuna fish
  • Parmigiano cheese, shaved
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Place arugula in a large serving bowl.
  2. Add cannellini beans, tuna fish, and shaved Parmigiano, and mix well.
  3. Toss with olive oil and vinegar until lightly coated.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

#12 - Pulled Pork Tacos

The first time we had today's meal, we were at Peppi and Kristen's house for a party. The pork tacos were really good, and they were even better once we found out that they used their crock pot to make them.

If you're not familiar with the concept of the crock pot, let us elucidate: you throw some stuff in when you get up, crank it on, go to work, and come home to delicious aromas and dinner already finished.

Seriously, after a long day at school or the office, coming home to dinner practically finished is unbelievable.

Our only problem was we didn't have enough recipes to take full advantage of it. Now, we can add one more.

Pulled Pork Tacos

From Peppi and Kristen, adapted from Real Simple
The only prep work we needed to do for this recipe was to cut up the onion. Other than that it was just measuring and plopping in the crock pot.
So what that means is before going to work, Johnny had to tear up from the red onions and get his hands dirty from the apricot jam.
And then when we got home, the meat was all done, and all we had to do was pull it apart with a couple forks, chop up some cilantro, and squeeze some lime juice.
And since we saved ourselves so much cooking time, we had enough energy to make a quick batch of tortillas too.

The tacos came out really well, and we think we've found another crock pot recipe to add to our repertoire.

Because the crock pot cooks on such a low heat for a long time, the meat comes out really juicy, and that definitely was true with this one. Be sure to change out of your work clothes before eating this so you don't get pulled pork taco juice all over them.
Here's how to make it. But first, go out and buy yourself a crock pot.
  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam or preserves
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  1. Place pork in crock pot.
  2. Pour in salt, pepper, and cumin, and rub on all sides of the pork.
  3. Cover pork with apricot jam.
  4. Add in the onions and about 1/4 cup of water.
  5. Cook on your crock pot's lowest setting for the longest time.
  6. When it has finished, open the crock pot and using a fork, shred the pork.
  7. Serve with the tortillas, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

#11 - Super Bowl Sundae

When we got married, we registered for an ice cream maker KitchenAid attachment. We've used it a lot, and we know that it takes eight egg yolks to whip up a good batch of ice cream. So when we made the Pavlova a few days ago, and our double recipe called for eight egg whites, we knew we were in business.

And since tonight's Super Bowl Sunday, we thought it would only be appropriate to turn our ice cream into a Super Bowl Sundae.

Super Bowl Sundae

A Hungry Hundred Original Recipe
Since we invented this recipe, the picture below of our mise en place is a little mise-d up. We ended up using canned whipped cream instead of homemade, and we didn't use any caramel sauce.
We like making our own ice cream from scratch (and a lot of people ask us to bring some for special occasions), but if you don't have an ice cream maker, you can still make this sundae with store bought peanut butter cup ice cream.
Or if you want to be adventurous, you could do a hybrid, by starting with store bought vanilla ice cream, and adding in the extra stuff that what we put in along the way. Kinda like Sandra Lee, but without the tablescape.
To turn vanilla ice cream into peanut butter cup ice cream, we added chopped peanuts and Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures. Then we swirled in some chocolate sauce and homemade peanut butter sauce.

From our experience swirling things in our Snickers ice cream in the past, we've learned that pouring sauces in all at once and stirring usually leads to a big mess. The heavy sauces sink to the bottom, and if you stir it too much, everything get all mixed and you can't pick out individual flavors. So we learned that it works better if you layer the ice cream and sauces and try not to stir too much.
This sundae was absurd. It was really tasty, and the peanut butter-chocolate combination was delicious. The ice cream and whipped cream were the perfect balance to the gooey-ness of the brownie, and the whole thing was ... a touchdown.

It was the perfect ending to our dinner of chicken nachos, pigs in a blanket, and mini quiches served on a wonderful Packers tablescape.
Here are all the recipes you need.

Homemade Peanut Butter Sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  1. Mix together the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Boil the mixture for one minute, and remove from heat.
  3. Stir in the peanut butter until melted and well blended.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
  • 2 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Homemade peanut butter sauce (from above)
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Handful of cocktail peanuts, chopped
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures, quartered
  1. In a medium pan, heat the half-and-half over medium heat until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar for 30 seconds (on Speed 2 of your KitchenAid).
  3. Gradually add half-and-half while continuing mixing.
  4. Return the mixture to medium heat until very hot and steaming, constantly stirring. Do not boil.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer mixture into a large bowl and stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt.
  6. Cover bowl and chill for at least 8 hours.
  7. Prepare your ice cream maker for use.
  8. Pour chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and stir for 15 minutes (on Speed 1 of your KitchenAid).
  9. While still mixing, add in chopped peanuts and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures, and stir for an additional 5 minutes or until the ice cream is thickened.
  10. Pour ice cream into a freezer safe air-tight container, and freeze for 1 hour.
  11. Remove ice cream from freezer, and add the chocolate sauce and homemade peanut butter sauce, swirling to lightly combine.
  12. Return ice cream to freezer for several hours before serving.

Super Bowl Sundae
  • 1 package of brownie mix (and additional ingredients according to box)
  • Peanut butter cup ice cream (from above)
  • Homemade peanut butter sauce (from above)
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Whipped cream
  • Reese's Pieces
  1. Bake brownies according to the instructions on the package.
  2. Starting with a brownie as the base, top with one scoop of peanut butter cup ice cream.
  3. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and homemade peanut butter sauce.
  4. Top with whipped cream and Reese's Pieces.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

#10 - Macaroni and Cheese

A few weeks ago, we went to Tony and Meg's house for dinner, and they made homemade macaroni and cheese. Homemade macaroni and cheese! What a remarkable idea.

After eating several platefuls, we decided that their recipe was going to make the list this year.

Macaroni and Cheese

From Tony and Meg via Everyday Italian
There are many different kinds of macaroni and cheese. There is one-cheese macaroni and cheese, two-cheese macaroni and cheese, and so on. This one is a three-cheese macaroni and cheese because it uses Fontina, Parmigiano, and mozzarella. (Not to mention a whole bunch of heavy whipping cream.)
For a busy weeknight side dish, this was a pretty easy recipe to make because all we really had to do is mix the ingredients together, cook the pasta, and put it in the oven.
When we had this at Tony's, he pointed out that sometimes it comes out a little soupy. So we took his advice, and after mixing the pasta and cheeses with the cream and milk, we scooped the wet cheesy pasta into the tray, but at the end we didn't pour the rest of the liquid in. We basically just made sure that the cheese and pasta weren't swimming in milk.
And nothing's better than adding a little more cheese on top to get crispy.
This stuff is crazy good, and the perfect side for our chicken cutlets. The best part is that we halved the recipe, but we still had a lot of delicious leftovers.
Here's the recipe. It will serve around six. Halve that if you're only two and want leftovers.
  • Butter, for greasing dish
  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated Fontina cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano
  • 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Butter a 13" x 9"glass baking dish and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta in salted water until tender but still firm to bite, and drain well.
  4. Whisk the cream, milk, flour, salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend.
  5. Stir in 1 cup Fontina, 1/2 cup Parmigiano, and 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  6. Add the pasta and toss to coat.
  7. Transfer the pasta mixture to the buttered dish.
  8. Toss the remaining 1 cup Fontina, 1/4 cup Parmigiano and 1/4 cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend.
  9. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture.
  10. Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes.
  11. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

#9 - Pavlova

Today was International Day at Emily's school, which means she had to stay up late last night making a dessert from the country her grade is representing. And this year, that country is New Zealand.

Last year, she slaved away like a Hungarian making apple strudel. At that point, she thought rolling out hundreds of layers of filo dough was difficult. That feat has paled in comparison to the New Zealand specialty of pavlova.


Adapted from All Recipes
This picture is a little misleading because while there are just a few ingredients, when you're trying to feed 200 students, you need a whole lot of egg whites and a boatload of kiwis.
Pavlova is the national dessert of New Zealand, and it's basically a meringue cake topped with whipped cream and fruit. For someone who's never attempted a meringue before, it's nerve-wracking trying to beat the egg whites to the perfect consistency.
After getting the stiff peaks right the first time, you have to add sugar and then beat them again. Double whammy. Twin peaks.
Since we were making a double batch, and the egg whites are so tough to work with, we made it in two rounds. We baked both pavlovas together, but we beat one batch of 4 egg whites first, cleaned the KitchenAid and did it again before putting them both in the oven.
The best part of a pavlova is that you can top it with whatever fruit you want, but we used kiwis for this one because, um duh, New Zealand.
Since both pavlovas survived the oven and the trip to school, Emily was able to serve spoonfuls to the whole school after teaching them how to do the Haka.

Emily was a little scared to taste it because she's not too sure about meringues, but after hearing the kids enjoy it, she decided to have a taste. And she discovered that it was surprisingly good. The meringue wasn't too dense, and covering it with whipped cream and kiwis didn't hurt.

Even though it was pretty good, it's a good thing we don't live in New Zealand where we'd have to make these things for everyone's birthdays.
If you're feeling like a Kiwi, here's what to do (this is the recipe for one pavlova, double it if you're feeding a miniature army of All Blacks):
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs confectioners sugar
  • 6 kiwis, peeled and sliced (or whatever fruit you want)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.
  3. Gradually add in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat until thick and glossy. Don't overbeat the eggs, or they'll deflate when folding with over ingredients. And don't let any egg yolk or grease get into the whites.
  5. Gently fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spoon the mixture into a circle about 9" across.
  7. Build up the edge slightly, leaving a depression in the middle.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, and cool on a wire rack.
  9. In a small bowl beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  10. Remove the paper, and place meringue on a flat serving plate.
  11. In a large bowl, whip the cream, adding the confectioners sugar.
  12. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream, and top with kiwi slices.