Friday, December 30, 2011


I'm finally on to posting about what I've been cooking this Christmas season. I've been experimenting with lots of new appetizers and hosted quite a few get-togethers. I'm getting a lot of practice entertaining!

I think I've got the food part down pretty well in terms of entertaining...although it's still a little difficult to plan a menu with more than three dishes that all work together. But the part that is most daunting to me is the whole role of being a hostess. Being relaxed, conversational, and happy while people are tearing apart the food you spent hours planning and preparing and tracking dirt all over the house you took all day to clean.

My problem is that I want everything to be perfect...except...I was reading this book the other day that said the whole key to being hospitable is being imperfect. If your house looks like a magazine, your guests won't be comfortable. They may be awed, but they won't be at ease. So I've been trying to take that to heart. It's hard to let things go, but I'm learning.

Anyway, these little puffs of goodness called gougères, which are baked savory choux pastries.

The recipe is from William Sonoma's Bride & Groom Cookbook.


3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups grated Gruyère cheese (I used cheddar)
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the butter and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add all of the flour at once, quickly stirring with a wooden spoon until the batter is glossy and smooth and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. The dough will form a ball around the spoon.

Remove from the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. (I had to use my electric mixer here.) Stir in the cheese, cayenne, and salt.

Use 2 spoons or a pastry bag without a tip (I chose the spoons as you can tell by the time I will use the bag to make them puffier.) to form 1" balls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the balls double in size and turn golden brown and a thin bladed knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly or completely before serving.

All Ryan could say was, "Yum!" before he popped another into his mouth! :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Roasted Shrimp, Tomato, and Feta Pasta

Today I bring you a recipe from from one of my fellow KY Food Bloggers, who adapted it from Ina Garten. It was absolutely delicious! 

The only changes I made were omitting the fennel seeds and Pernod and using only one type of bread crumbs instead of two.

Roasted Shrimp, Tomato, and Feta Pasta
adapted from My Fiance Likes It So It Must Be Good and Ina Garten

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup madeira wine
14 oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveiled - tails left on
5 oz. feta cheese crumbles
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley 
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
 dried egg noodles 

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large, oven-proof skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil under medium high heat. Add celery. Saute for about 6-8 minutes, or until celery is starting to soften. Add garlic and cook for about a minute. Stir in madeira wine and bring to a boil.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid is half reduced.

Add diced tomatoes with their liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Simmer mixture for about 15 minutes.

Add shrimp to pan in an even layer, over the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle feta atop the shrimp.

In a small bowl, combine both bread crumbs, lemon zest, parsley, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Scatter bread crumb mixture over shrimp. Place skillet in oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.  Squeeze lemon juice atop shrimp before serving.

Cook pasta while shrimp are in the oven.

Well, I'm caught up to Christmas now, but I have been cooking up a storm recently so be on the lookout for some new recipes! I'm also looking forward to experimenting with my Christmas present from my brother, Plate to Pixel, a book on food photography!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Chocolate-Almond Bark

This is one of my very favorite holiday desserts. Even Ryan, a self-proclaimed pumpkin- and ground ginger-hater, served himself some seconds. It's so different from all the other desserts you are eating right now. The graham cracker crust is topped with a simple but homemade pumpkin ice cream (without the use of an ice cream maker), whipped cream, and chocolate-almond bark. It can be served with a toffee sauce, but I find it quite delicious without.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Chocolate-Almond Bark
12 whole graham crackers (about 7 oz)
1/4 cup sugar
7 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 cup pure pumpkin
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
2 quarts premium vanilla ice cream

Whipped Cream
1.5 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar

Cooking spray
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped

Crust Prep
Preheat oven to 350. Finely grind crackers in processor. Mix in sugar. Add butter, mix to blend. Press onto bottom and up sides of  10" diameter glass pie dish. Bake until light brown around edges, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Filling Prep
Whisk first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl. Slightly soften ice cream in microwaves in 10-second intervals. Measure 1 cup ice cream and freeze for a different recipe or future eating. :) Spoon remaining ice cream into a large bowl. Working quickly, add pumpkin mixture and fold just until swirled into ice cream (don't blend completely). If ice cream begins to melt, freeze again until almost firm. Spoon ice cream filling into cooled crust, cover with plastic, and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.

*You can make the recipe to this point and freeze for two days before serving.

Bark Prep
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Stir chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (double boiler) until melted and smooth. Pour onto baking sheet. Using offset spatula, spread chocolate in an even layer into a 12x9" rectangle. Sprinkle with nuts. Place in freezer until hard, at least 30 minutes. Invert onto work surface and peel off paper. Coarsely chop. Place in a medium container, cover, and freeze. The bark can also be made 2 days ahead.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream and sugar in a medium bowl until peaks form. Spoon over pie and decorate with bark.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Simple Steak with Carrots en Papillote and Butternut Squash Risotto

Merry Christmas, everyone! I'm going to go back to a dinner that is a prime example of the necessity of flexibility in the kitchen. I was planning on making salmon en papillote (which means baking it inside a parchment pouch to trap all the flavors and juices!), but, much to my dismay, it smelled funny after I thawed it. If it smells too much like fish...think twice before eating it. :)

So I rummaged around in my freezer and found some small steaks (perfect portion size, actually). I had been planning on putting julienned carrots in with the salmon, but I just cut up a few more and put them in there with some soy sauce, a drop of honey, lemon slices, a little rosemary, salt, and pepper.

To make the pouch, tear off a square of parchment paper. Fold it in half. Draw a half heart on there and cut it out so that you have a heart-shaped piece of parchment. Put what you want to cook on one flap, fold the other side over, and start twisting/folding the edges together, starting at the dip in what would be the center of the heart. When you get to the bottom tip, twist the excess.

I baked my carrots at about 400 degrees for around 10 minutes.

Since the steak was literally a last-minute decision, I thawed it in the microwave, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and flashed it in the pan with a little olive oil.

The Butternut Squash Risotto was the recipe I planned for that did not go awry.

Butternut Squash Risotto
From Cooking Light
3 cups of 1/2" cubed butternut squash, divided
3.5 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
5 oz (about 5 slices) applewood-smoked (or other high quality) bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine 2 cups squash and 2.5 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Place mixture into a food processor or use an immersion blender to process until smooth. Return to pan, stir in broth, and bring to a simmer. Reserve 1/4 cup squash mixture. Keep pan warm over low heat. Heat a large dutch oven (guess what I got for Christmas?!?!) over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add remaining squash mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring until each cup is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in reserved 1/4 cup squash mixture. Top with parsley and bacon.

For dessert we finished off with the chocolate pot pie from Jonathan's cookbook.

Here is the recipe.
Note: I did not make the "lid," so I did not include that recipe. I also quartered the ingredients so that it would only make two, and they turned out beautifully!

Chocolate Pot Pies
Makes 8
18 oz semi-sweet chocolate
10 oz butter
2 tbsp bourbon
6 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
1/4 cup sugar
vanilla ice cream
Chocolate sauce (I melted more chocolate and added a little bourbon to thin it a little)

Preheat oven to 400.
Brush the inside of 3 4-oz ramekins with butter. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (one pan set inside another filled with water) with the butter and bourbon.
Mix the egg yolks, whole eggs, and sugar for 2-3 minutes in a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the mixer bowl. Mix well enough to blend. (Or just blend with a hand mixer)
Fill each ramekin almost to the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The outside perimeter should be cooked with the inside still runny. Top each off with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

This recipe is a keeper! Be prepared to feel very indulgent!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate Crumble Pie

Ryan's grandfather, or Vovo as they call him, recently turned 90 and this is what I brought to his church's potluck celebration.

I made it the day before, with my sister sitting in my kitchen and carrying on in enjoyable sisterly conversation. After I had distractedly gone through my cabinets a couple times I realized that my loose-bottom tart pan was MIA! My sister lovingly helped me go through every cabinet again and think through where it might be...but I've moved so many times that I can't think where it might be. I thought I would find it when I unpacked in our new house a couple weeks ago, but to no avail. That tart pan is still hiding and I just know it will turn up the day after I buy a new one!

Anyway, I had to make do with a springform pan, which did the job, but not beautifully.

People liked the pie anyway, or at least Ryan did. And sometimes that's all that matters. :)

Here's the recipe.

Chocolate Crumble Pie
adapted from Everyday Chocolate

7 oz or scant 1.25 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Generous 1/4 cup sugar (superfine if you have it)
1 egg yolk
1-2 tsp cold water (I ended up using more)

5 fl oz or 2/3 cup heavy cream
5 fl oz or 2/3 cup milk
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 eggs

Crumble Topping
Generous 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup toasted pecans
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa

To make the pie dough, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, rub in the butter, and stir in the sugar. Then add the egg yolk and a little water until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out and knead briefly. Wrap the dough and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Roll out the pie dough ad use to line a 9 in loose-bottom tart pan (if you can find it!). Prick the pastry shell with a fork. Line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans (at this point I couldn't find my special baking beans and have not found them to this day...I'm still convinced someone was trying to sabotage my recipe that day). Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and take out paper and beans. Reduce oven temp to 350.

Bring the cream and milk to a boil in a pan, remove from heat, and add the chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth. Beat the eggs and add to the chocolate mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into the shell. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and let rest for 1 hour.

Place the topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse to chop, or chop the nuts and chocolate then add to the other ingredients and crush in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the pie right before serving.

I managed to nab this shot with my phone when I set it out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Simple Things

Will I leave this world regretting the recipes I never made? Or will my zeal to make as many as I can hasten that day? Is it bad that the main reason I'm looking forward to having kids is so that I'll have more people to cook for and can thus make more things? So many times I have to wait and wait to make recipes since I don't want to make them just for me and Ryan. I mean...if we ate everything I wanted to make, we would balloon up and float away. So I have to stick to the healthy stuff when it's just us two and then take joy in carting fattening hors d'oeuvres and desserts to whatever potluck or family gathering I go to.

The pains of a dietitian who loves to cook.

I feel as if I'm trying to make up for the past month of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I ate for lunch by making three different things a day since my last final.

So...I made a goal.

I will post every day (except Christmas Eve and Christmas...probably) until I am caught up telling you all about what I've been up to.

Hold me to it!

Whole Wheat Harvest Bread
adapted from Making Fresh Bread by Love Food

Makes one medium loaf or two extra small loaves

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp milk
1.5 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp lukewarm water

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, oil and lukewarm water. Stir well with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to come together, then knead with your hands until it leaves the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter  (or baking sheet to cut down on mess) and knead well for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Don't clean up the flour yet!

Brush a bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a ball, put it into the bowl, and put the bowl into a plastic bag or cover with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubles in volume.

Spray a 6.5x4.25x3.25" loaf pan with cooking spray...or two extra small pans...which is what I did. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter, punch down with your fist and knead for 1 minute. With lightly floured hands, shape it into the appropriately sized rectangle(s) and flatten slightly. Fold it lengthwise into 3 and place in the prepared pan(s), seam side down. Put the pan(s) into a plastic bag or cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in the warm place for 30 minutes, until the dough has reached the top of the pan. You can clean up the flour now.

Preheat the oven to 425. Bake for 30 minutes (less if using small pans), until it has shrunk from the sides of the pan, the crust is golden brown, and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom with your knuckles. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fresh from the Farm: arugula, chard, and potatoes

Last week was the final week of my CSA share. It's been fun learning about some new vegetables and some very interesting recipes have resulted. But I'm not sure if I will do it again next year. I still feel guilty about the many times I threw things out because they went bad before I could use them. And I cannot for the life of me figure out how to store greens without them going limp! Any suggestions??

Here I will share with you some recipes I made that featured the last pickings of the crop.

First up, Arugula Pesto Pasta
I got the pesto recipe from my CSA newsletter:
3 cups packed arugula (about 3/4 pound) washed well and dried
1/3 pine nuts, toasted golden and cooled (I substituted almonds)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/4)
1 large clove garlic, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil (I used 1.5 tbsp olive oil and the juice from half a lemon)
1/4 cup hot water (I used pasta water)

1/2 lb pasta of your choice

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor, pulse together all ingredients except oil, lemon juice, and water until chopped fine. With motor running, add oil and lemon juice in a stream, blending until smooth. (Careful with this part! If your processor tends to shake a lot like mine, then it's probably ok to add the oil a little bit at a time, blending after each addition.)

Drain pasta, reserving some liquid, and place in bowl.

Stir 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water into the pesto to loosen. Toss with pasta, adding more water if needed. Combine with a meat, if you desire. I chopped up some leftover Italian-seasoned chicken to add.

Next comes the potatoes. The first thing I made with them was Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad. I have to say, I detest normal potato salad. Actually, my real issue is with the mayonnaise. No, it's not because it is unhealthy, because they have all those low-fat versions now. I have just never liked the taste. If I forget to ask for no mayo at a sandwich place, my lunch is ruined.

So anyway, I decided to make potato salad sans mayo. I forgot to write down the proportions, so please forgive me. It should be pretty easy to eyeball it.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad
new potatoes
1 container crumbled blue cheese
3-4 slices bacon
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
small bunch of parsley

Heat a pot of water on the stove. Slice potatoes into consistently sized chunks. Boil until tender. Meanwhile, chop parsley and cook bacon. Crumble. Place potatoes in a bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar down the sides of the bowl and toss. (This allows for more even coverage and lets you use less.) Mix in blue cheese, parsley, and all but 1-2 tbsp bacon bits. Top with remaining bacon and serve warm or chill and serve cold!

I also got some delicious yukon gold potatoes and used them in another recipe provided by the newsletter. I thought it was good. Ryan thought it was good. But it looked...strange. Just a warning.

Chard and Potato Soup
2 tbsp butter
1 cup onion, chopped (I omitted this for Ryan's sake)
1 bunch swiss chard, trimmed, leaves and steams chopped SEPARATELY (makes 6 cups chopped leaves)
2 cups yukon gold potatoes, peeled, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
salt and pepper
For garnish: 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/4 cup swiss chard, 2-3 slices cooked and crumbled bacon

Heat butter in a pot over medium heat. Add swiss chard stems (and onion, if using) and saute for 2 minutes or until softened. Add potatoes, chicken stock, and milk and bring to a boil. This is when it turns pink if you used any red swiss chard.

Simmer soup for 5 minutes. Add leaves (reserving 1/4 cup for garnish) and simmer 5 minutes longer or until potatoes are very soft and chard is wilted.

Puree soup with blender, food processor, or an immersion blender (greatest invention on earth!!). This is when it turns green. Season with salt and pepper.

For garnish, heat oil (or if using bacon, just use leftover grease) in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add swiss chard (be careful! it will splatter!) and fry for 1-2 minutes or until crisped. Drain on paper towels.

Garnish and enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Peanut Brittle

We are going to go waaaaay back and take a look at a cake I made in September for my mom's birthday. I couldn't let this one slip by. It was a moist chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter filling, tangy frosting, and spectacular peanut brittle.

In case you're wondering..the camera connector cord thingy decided to take a vacation...hence the long break between posts.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, A Year in Chocolate by Alice Medrich. I look back on the arrival of the book with fond memories as I received it in the mail the day I got engaged, February 6th, 2010. I thought I was meeting up with Ryan to go car shopping and he was a little late (getting ready to propose, I now know!), so I read it in the car while I was waiting.

Anyway, everything I've made from it has been wonderful. This particular recipe is called Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake.

First, you gotta make the brittle. As a side note, don't let the technicality of this recipe scare you. It's just simple numbers, a good chunk of time, and a little bit of patience.

Peanut Brittle
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Have the nuts, a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, a white plate, a skewer or spoon, a small bowl of water, and a pastry brush or paper towel ready at the side of the stove. Things are going to happen fast! Also spray a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.

In a 3-4 cup saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Stir gently (don't whisk, please) over medium heat until most of the sugar looks dissolved. Stop stirring and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Uncover and wash down the insides of the pot with a wet pastry brush or a wet wad of paper towel. Continue to simmer until it begins to color. Swirl the pot instead of stirring if it is coloring unevenly.

Use the skewer or spoon to drop a bead of syrup on the plate. When a drop looks pale amber, add the nuts and turn gently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until completely coated. Continue to cook without stirring until a drop of syrup looks reddish amber.

IMMEDIATELY scrape the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread as thin as possible. Let cool and harden. Break into shards or chop. Congratulations! The hardest part is done!

All ingredients should be at room temp.
1 1/4 cups AP flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
3/8 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
16 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Prepare two 8 inch round layer cake pans by lining on the bottom with a round of parchment paper and spraying it and the sides with baking spray. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together 3 times. Yes. 3 times. Set aside.

Combine sour cream with 1/4 cup water and set aside.

In a medium to large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter for a few seconds until creamy. Add the sugar in a steady stream and continue to beat (at high speed if you have an old school hand mixer like me or medium speed if you have a fancy schmancy stand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Next, break the eggs into a small cup, add the vanilla, and whisk to combine. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture gradually, taking 1.5 to 2 minutes, beating constantly.

Stop mixing and add one third of the flour mixture to the bowl. Beat on low speed only until no flour is visible. Stop mixing and add half of the sour cream. Beat only until blended. Repeat with half the remaining flour mixture, then all of the remaining sour cream, then the rest of the flour. Stop mixing each time you add something, then beat on low speed just long enough to incorporate the ingredients.

Divide the batter between the pans and spread evenly. Bake until the cake starts to shrink away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before attempting the nerve-wracking flip. Then...flip each layer onto a rack and peel off the parchment (glad you put those in there now, aren't ya?). Turn the layers right side up and cool completely.

If you want to do this ahead, you can make the layers, wrap them tightly, and keep at room temp for 1-2 days or frozen for 3 months.

2/3 cup natural smooth peanut butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened

Beat the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter just until blended and smooth. When the cakes are cool, turn one layer upside down on a platter or on a cardboard circle. Spread the filling evenly over the cake. Top with the second layer, right side up.

Finally, make the frosting.

5 oz semisweet chocolate
2/3 sour cream (If you try to get by with a normal 4 oz chocolate bar, this will get really tangy. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (put the chocolate in a small bowl and set in a pan of barely simmering water). Stir frequently until smooth. Or if you're a risk taker, microwave on medium for 2.5-3 minutes, stirring every now and then. Off heat, scrape the sour cream on top of the chocolate and stir just to combine. Use IMMEDIATELY to frost the top and sides of the cake. If it gets too stiff or loses its gloss, set the bowl in a pan of hot water for a few seconds to soften. Decorate the cake with the peanut brittle and keep at room temp. Hopefully it will be eaten without you having to throw it out in 3 days. Or you could do an experiment and freeze it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Apple Cake...when to healthify and when to fatten

When you are making a recipe, do you ever stop and think, "Gee this is a ton of butter" or "does this brown sugar really need to be packed??" I do. Every time I bake. But the important thing is...I don't always change it. really just has to be that way.

Here are my personal rules about when to healthify and when to serve up the "good stuff:"

Healthify when...
1. Cooking for immediate family.
2. You've made that recipe a billion times and you know it inside and out.
3. No one will know who made what at the potluck anyways...what if you can get a little whole grain into 'em?
4. Making crumbles or cobblers. Normally the streusel can have a lot less sugar and butter.
5. Everyone knows you're a dietitian and thinks that whatever you make has zero calories.
6. You tell your husband what you are making ahead of time and he gets excited.

Don't healthify when...
1. You're making a really complicated recipe.
2. Birthdays and holidays.
3. Your husband will be telling everyone what you made.
4. You're having a bad day and a ruined recipe will push you over the edge.
5. You're cooking with friends and good intentions could turn into accidental addition of double instead of half the butter.
6. You tell your husband what you are making ahead of time and he gets excited.

Now this particular recipe I did not healthify, because my source had already done the work for me. Here it is...the perfect way to use up those last few apples if you got a bag of seconds from the orchard.

Apple Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Teenage Gourmet

6 apples
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

2.75 cups flour, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2.5 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. (I cut the top and bottom off, peeled the rest, used an apple corer/slicer, then used a knife to chop.) Toss with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a different bowl, whisk together oil, applesauce, OJ, sugar, and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry, then add eggs one at a time.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Pour half of the apples over it. Pour remaining batter over the apples and arrnage remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1.5 hours (mine was almost overdone at 80 min...good thing I caught it in time) until tester comes out clean.

Sorry again for the iphone photos...

As for those stuffed jalapenos, I can't find the recipe I used anywhere. But I can tell you that they were stuffed with 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, a little cayenne and then grilled. Hope that helps!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Adventures with Caramel

Due to many requests and the fact that I took some of your advice in terms of kitchen colors, I decided to put of some pictures of our new kitchen! So here it is in progress! We are going to put white brick-shaped tile as the backsplash.

Unfortunately, we are going to have to get a really short fridge.

Ryan made this window himself! It used to be a plain old wall and now its a wonderful link between the kitchen and living room.

Now here's where I need some more advice from you all. We are painting our living room gray and going with a retro/modern feel with mustard yellow accents. The question is...should we have light gray walls in our kitchen as well...or paint mustard yellow on one or two walls? Opinions?

Check out some of the fun I've had with apples and caramel recently! I carved this apple in one of my food "labs" this semester.

Last Friday I got together with some of my friends and we made caramel apples and popcorn!

First, poke in some sticks.

Next, make some caramel. I used 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, and 3/4 light corn syrup, as recommended by Cannelle et Vanille. Warning: If you desire dark caramel, this recipe is not for you. I, on the other hand, think it's fun to see the beautiful jonagolds through the caramel.

Bring it to a boil and heat to 315 F.

Immediately dip the apples.

While they cool, you can melt some chocolate and drizzle that over.

If you have any caramel left over, make popcorn!

We girls can never have too much popcorn.

(Yes, these are iphone photos...Ryan's been taking his camera with him a lot lately. Hopefully I can commandeer it again soon!)

On a different topic, here are some of the recipes you requested. The only one I can't post right now is the stuffed jalapenos because I believe I found that in one of my cookbooks and I'm not home right now.

Fried Nutella Wontons: I didn't change anything in this one. It's really mostly just assembly. I substituted homemade raspberry jam for the coulis, though.

Baked Apple Donuts: Beware. These are dangerously addictive. Ryan and I made them disappear rather quickly between the two of us, so I would recommend a double batch.

Chocolate Chip and Brown Sugar Bundt Cake: To be honest, this was not my favorite because it was a little dry. I would recommend adding some applesauce for moistness.

Now as for the pasta, I made that one up. I did not make the pasta myself, unfortunately. I believe the sauce was a sage cream sauce based off of a Williams Sonoma recipe. When I get home I will check on that.

Thanks for reading and commenting! It's inspiring!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Student's Lament

I know. I have not blogged in almost two months. But I am not going to apologize...I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen! Just...not cooking. Ryan and I bought a house and it needs a lot of work. So along with that, we got the marvelous task of redesigning/decorating a kitchen! Our black granite counters went in today!

I have also been spending a lot of time studying. Yes, I am a student. And that means I have exams and papers and group projects all fighting for my time. Not to mention the fact that I am trying to fit in my remaining required volunteer hours before my internship starts in January, while maintaining my roles as wife, daughter, sister, friend, accompanist, and president of the Student Dietetic Association at UK. I am grateful that I have the strength to do all of these things, but I am looking forward to the holidays when I will (hopefully!) have lots more time to cook up my new kitchen!

Here are some pictures of things I've made, but not posted about. If you take a liking to any of them, just holler and I will direct you to the recipe.

Fried Nutella Wontons

Stuffed and Grilled Jalapenos

Pappardelle Pasta with Steak and Parmesan

Bourbon Glazed Peaches with Homemade Vanilla Yogurt

Chocolate Chip and Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

Sauteed Toast and Vanilla Apples with Whipped Cream

Baked Apple Donut Holes

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shaved Salad

There's something so relaxing about preparing a dish hours before dinner. Spending all the time you want making it look perfect and then taking photos of it while it's still daylight.

Compared to what I usually do...which is whip up dinner right before Ryan gets home and then snap a picture of it in the dim light as it's whisked to the table.

Being outside is just so much more inspiring. If it were possible, my kitchen would be outside. With a stony spring for my sink, a huge trunk for my worktable, and ever-perfect lighting.

The middle tomato in the picture above is a peach tomato. Try one if you get the chance. They are quite a treat. We received the lemon cucumbers below in our CSA basket one week. They did not have a strong flavor...but they were too beautiful to pass up.

I decided to make a shaved squash salad by literally shaving slices of zucchini and yellow squash and arranging them with tomatoes.

I topped it with my favorite Asian concoction...sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced ginger, and crushed red pepper.

Then later that night I whipped up fried rice as the main dish...I have to show you the picture to prove the point I made earlier.

Yup. Late dinner = Lighting issues + zero plating technique.

It was the best fried rice I've ever had, though. Unfortunately, I can't remember where the recipe is from. I'll get back to you on that.