Monthly Archives: September 2008

TWD #3: Perfection Pound Cake (in place of Creme Brulee)

Since I don’t own a blowtorch and didn’t really want to try the whole water bath method, Creme Brulee was out (even though it would have been the perfect excuse to use the new ramenkins!)   I decided to try one of the many recipes that the TWD bakers have completed in the past months.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand for the “Perfection Pound Cake” I decided to give it a try.

A bunch of kitchen staples

A bunch of kitchen staples


  I don’t think I have ever had true pound cake before so I don’t really have a point of comparison.  It turned out quite good.   Dave was expecting it to be sweeter since it is “cake” but I really liked the rich butter flavor.  I added in some lemon zest that I rehydrated from The Spice House but I’m not sure if I could really taste it.  I want this stuff to work well because I hate buying a whole lemon/orange and then just using it for the zest.
The jury is still out...

The jury is still out...


I had it with some vanilla ice cream and a handful of frozen raspberries.  Dave had some for breakfast on Sunday morning with a little Pear Butter from Seedling Farms spread on it.  The recipe calls for quite a lot of time with the mixer.  I followed the times closely and once I was at the point of adding the flour to the butter/sugar it was very fluffy and light.  Dorie was right, it really does taste better the next day.
Perfection.

Perfection.

One of my favorite Lasagnas

Cheesy layers

Cheesy layers


I have a thing for spicy Italian sausage. I buy it in the bulk packages from Dominicks and freeze them, 4/5 to a bag. Usually I will make a pasta sauce with the whole links to freeze into individual dinners so that Dave and I can have a quick, filling meal after a long day at work and school. However, sometimes I am in the mood for this Lasagna. Whenever I make this for others, they always ask what that slightly different taste is…the secret is goat cheese. You mix in a 3-4 oz log of goat cheese with the typical ricotta/parm/egg mixture and it just gives it a slightly different flavor. It’s really good and I am not even the biggest fan of goat cheese overall.

Italian Sausage Lasagna (adapted from Turkey Lasagna)

Olive Oil
1 yellow onion-chopped
2-3 garlic cloves-minced
4-5 hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
Basil-1 bunch, chopped
1 box lasagna noodles (you will only use 1/2 to 2/3 of the noodles)
15 oz ricotta cheese
Small goat cheese log (3-4 ozs)
1 1/2 cups of grated Parm
1 egg
1 Lb Fresh Mozz, thinly sliced or grated

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-low for about 5 mins or until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more min. Add the sausage and cook while breaking it up with a fork into smaller pieces for 8-10 min or until it is no longer pink. Drain off the fat (I like to use a little spoon). Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and some salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parm, the egg and some salt and pepper. Really mix in the goat cheese well so that it combines with all the other flavors.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9×12 baking dish and spread it over the bottom well. Then add the layers: pasta (add the dry pieces, don’t worry about pre-boiling them), half of the ricotta (spread it out with a spatula to make it even), half of the mozz and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Sprinkle the top of the sauce with the remaining Parm. Bake for 30 mins.

before...

before...


....after

....after

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate: Restraurant-Dessert Bar-Pastries

Mexican Hot Chocolate w/ Homemade Marshmallow

Mexican Hot Chocolate w/ Homemade Marshmallow

Last week Dave and I celebrated our 2-year dating anniversary. He bought me some awesome new stuff for the kitchen (nice cooling racks, splatter screen, RAMEKINS!, more liquid measuring cups) and I took us out to Hot Chocolate in Bucktown. It was a super yummy meal. We shared the homemade pretzel with a yummy melted cheese and apple cider mustard. Dave got the burger and it was probably the best burger I ever stole a bite from and I had the Mac and Cheese. The waiter warned me that it was super rich and he was very right. I only ate half and took the rest home with me. We of course had to try a dessert! Dave got the mint chocolate chip milkshake which tasted very fresh and nothing like the artificial taste of mint chocolate chip ice cream (which he likes and I hate). It came with 3 little cookies that were perfectly moist. I had the Mexican Hot Chocolate (I figure you can’t go to “Hot Chocolate” and not get some Hot Chocolate). It was my first experience with homemade marshmallows which were truly phenomenal. The hot chocolate was perfectly cinnamony and rich. If you are in Chicago and haven’t gone to Hot Chocolate-makes plans…even if it is just for dessert. It is the perfect splurge evening.

I will crave this in the dead of winter

I will crave this in the dead of winter

mmmmmilkshake

mmmmmilkshake

TWD #2: Dimply Plum Cake

Dimply Plums

Dimply Plums

The Dimply Plum recipe that was chosen for this week was quite yummy and I will probably make it again with other fruits. It is much better warm on the first day than reheated the next, so make this when you know that you will be able to share it quickly with others. It was also fun to try out some of the plums from the farmer’s market. I used cinnamon in place of the cardamom because I have a weakness for the Spice House and already had some great quality cinnamon in my spice box (yes-I have boxes–this is a subject of a future blog).

Lovely orange zest

Lovely orange zest

Dave got to it before I got a picture...

Dave got to it before I got a picture...

Recipe is from Baking: My Home to Yours on Page 41. This is a lovely book that I got for under 10 bucks on Half.com :)

Make this as fast as you can

If you haven’t stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman please go when you have a day to kill. Ree has created a wonderful website full of great knowledge and entertainment. One of the best things that I have found on this website is a recipe for Mac and Cheese.

goodness in a bowl

goodness in a bowl

It is spicy. It is colorful. It is really bad for you. It is AWESOME. I made it when I was in PA for Dave’s little sister’s college graduation and it was one of the hits of the party. Just make sure that you scrape the jalapeno seeds and membranes out with a spoon and not your hands and that you wash your hands well before they get anywhere close to your eyes, mouth, etc. I made the mistake of using my hands to scrape down the jalapenos, washed them (with soap!) then went to the cheese tray (I was cooking during the party-its how I roll) and popped a piece of parm in my mouth. Suddenly my entire face felt like it was literally in flames. After 30 mins with a gallon of milk and a towel (yes-its a funny mental imagine), my face finally felt better. My hands were swollen for the next day. I don’t know what was wrong with me because I handle spice really well but you have been warned. USE A SPOON.

Those little buggars were HOT.

Those little buggers were HOT.

So much color!

So much color!

The perfect chicken

When I first started getting into reading food blogs, even before I learned to use the awesome Google reader tool, I would print out receipes that looked tempting and put them in a binder.  Pretty soon it was a huge stack of paper and I actually needed to try things.  One of the many things I had printed was the Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken posted over at the Kitchen Sink.  I have now made it twice and it is nothing short of amazing.  I usually throw a chicken in the shopping cart when they are on sale at Dominicks but I can’t wait to afford a nice, free range chicken.

A need a real roasting pan

A need a real roasting pan

The best part of making this for 2 people is the leftovers. I used the leftover chicken for a quick chicken salad (just threw it in with some celery, greek yogurt, spices and grapes) and used it for a repeat of the burrito filling.

Straddling summer and fall…

I have been in the habit of going to Green City every Wed and Sat mornings.  I am really liking going on Wed, right at 7:30 when it is nice and empty.  The only downfall if that I can’t really take my time because I still need to get to work around 9 and I have no time to play with my goodies until the evening (or even Friday!)  This past Wed I picked up some of the last cherry tomatoes from Nichols and also got my first tiny pumpkin for the apartment.  That just seemed like the perfect way to get the last glimpse of summer until next year (when I will be studying for the Bar-eek!) and the first taste of Fall and crunchy leaves before the inevitable winter (and no more markets-tear).  I wanted to share a few of my favorite things from the market that I have been buying over the past few weeks.  Enjoy!

Look at the little pumpkin!

Look at the little pumpkin!

Dilly Beans for Dave (I'm such a nice GF)

Dilly Beans for Dave (I am such a good GF)

The perfect tomato

The perfect tomato

My first TWD Post: Chocolate Chunkers

This is my first post in the oh so famous Tuesdays with Dorie baking group! These cookies were quite tasty but they did use an obscene amount of quality chocolate (like $18 worth). I did get 36 cookies out of the receipe so I will have plenty to share with friends and at work. Dave even liked them even though he isn’t the biggest fan of raisins or pecans.

Here are some pictures of the process. I am still working on my food shots. I am just using my trusty Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH and my kitchen has horrible lighting, so they aren’t the best, just the best that I can do. I am excited to take part in this baking group. Hopefully I can make the time each weekend to bake with all my 3L reading/work/etc.

Look at all the chocolate!  MMMM...

Look at all the chocolate! MMMM...

The receipe can be found in Baking: From My Home to Yours Page 70.

Hurricane Ike…

I just wanted to post something since it is has been a weird weekend.  I have the mixed emotions of being both glad/realived that I am not dealing with the clean-up and the lack of power in The Woodlands and sad for all the damage and destruction of the city that I grew up for the first 18 years of my life.  My parents are fine.  They had a few trees fall and lean against our garage but nothing fell into the house.  Some of their neighbors weren’t so lucky.  I am also very happy that my Dad is back from working/living in CA and was home to be with my Mom.  I am also very sad for our family friend’s shop in Galveston.  We haven’t heard but I just feel in my heart that it is probably flooded.

I hope that everyone in Houston is doing alright and I hope that they can get your electricity back on soon.

My heart is in Texas.

Here is a great Texas Memory…

A wonderful picture of Dave at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2007

A wonderful picture of Dave at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2007

Burritos!! And a quick tomatillo salsa…

One of the things that I absolutely love about the Green City Market, other than the fact that it is basically outside my apartment door, is that I go and just buy what looks good, then figure out what to make with it.

Last week I was down to my last dollar and I saw a sign for Poblanos: 3 for $1 and I thought, “mmm perfect.” Then I got on Epicurious and found the perfect recipe.   I tinkered with it a little bit and added a can of black beans and used fresh corn (also from Green City) instead of frozen, and switched the taco sauce for the salsa below.  The filling was AWESOME.  Dave and I had them for dinner on Sunday.  Then I had them again for lunch and dinner on Monday.  I have to pack my lunch and dinner because I am in class or at work from 9am to 10pm and these burritos kept me full and satisfied.   I even brought the last bit of filling with me on Tuesday and Brian (one of my law school friends) ate it cold and thought it was mighty tasty.  This recipe is a keeper and will be put into regular rotation.

Modified from Epicurious: Chicken Burritos with Poblano Chiles and Corn
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium-size fresh poblano chiles, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 3/4 teaspoons chili powder
Corn from 2-3 cobs (approx. 2 cups)
1 cup of canned black beans, drained
6 burrito-size flour tortillas
2 cups grated four-cheese Mexican blend
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano chiles; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add chicken, cumin, and chili powder; sprinkle with salt and pepper. sauté until chicken is almost cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in corn; sauté until heated through, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat tortillas over open flame or electric burner until beginning to soften and brown in spots, about 15 seconds per side. Spoon chicken mixture in strip down center of each tortilla; top with cheese and cilantro. Fold in sides of tortilla over filling; roll up, enclosing filling.

I also made a quick Tomatillo Salsa that was perfect on these burritos.

Tomatillo Salsa: From Real Simple July 2008
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
1 jalapeño, seeded
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

In a food processor, pulse the tomatillos, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until finely chopped.