Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh another mishap

After the dinner mess, I tried to make some Blueberry turnovers.

Before I started with dinner I threw together some fresh blueberry, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and spices. I let that simmer for a bit and put a thickening agent. It tasted delish and I was excited about it.

Then dinner happened.

After that I took my puff pastry placed it on my baking dish, opened it up and tried to unfold it. I guess it was too warm in the kitchen and thawed the pastry thawed too long/too much. I decided I would roll it out and cut it into thirds. I placed the Blueberry mixture on the dough and with the help of my youngest son, we crimped the edges. I threw the pan into the oven for about 20 minutes. They were golden brown and puffy when they came out. However, most of the blueberry mix oozed out of the crimped edges.

Oiy..... Can this night get any worse???

What a Night...

Have you ever had one of "those" days? I had one last night. I had this week's menu planned and had chicken out to thaw. Then I saw an Olive Garden commercial. I sat down at my computer and looked at their menu. I came across a chicken dish called Chicken & Gnocchi Veronese. It is sautéed chicken with Italian dumplings and roasted red peppers in a parmesan and ricotta cheese sauce. Yum that looked great. I did a search for this recipe and found one on RecipeZaar.com. Hmm... I didn't have any fresh peppers but I did have roasted red peppers in a jar. So I used those. Then the next hmmm moment, I did have any heavy cream so I searched for the alternative.

After finding the alternatives for the peppers and cream I moved onto the gnocchi dough. I have never eaten a gnocchi in my entire life. (I also saw an episode on the Food Network where the chef Anne Burrel making gnocchi). I have never made them before and have wanted to try to make them. Oiy, what was I thinking. I made the gnocchi dough while the chicken was marinating. Then came across a couple of road blocks:

First, I don't own a potato ricer so I had to mash them by hand.

Second, I'm not sure if I had enough flour. I added a little her and a little there just so it wouldn't be so sticky. I finally got it to a consistency to where I can roll them into logs. I made the little "dumplings" out of half the recipe. Thank goodness my husband helped me with this meal and a glass of wine.

Thirdly, (is that proper English???) my oldest son came in to help. He mixed the ricotta, parmesan and the cream. I pour it in the pan and it looked like the ricotta didn't mix in "well".

Let's just say I made it through the recipe and served the meal. I was so upset with the way it came out I couldn't bring myself to take a photo. Since we have never had gnocchi before, we didn't know what type of texture or taste they are suppose to have. The one person that I know of that could have helped me and explained the process happens to be on vacation. Melissa, I was practically in tears. So I had a second glass of wine and whined all night about the darn meal.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Berry Muffins

I love grocery shopping early Sunday mornings. I like to take my time and look at the fresh produce. This week I bought fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. As I was getting ready to go to the check out I stopped and looked at the muffins in the bakery. My husband usually take cereal or muffins for his morning break. Well the store usually has the same kind week in and week out...

I decided to make him some berry muffins this week. Wow, were they delicious...

Tri-Berry Muffins
by Ina Garten

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt1
½ Tbs ground cinnamon
1 ¼ cups milk
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup fresh raspberries (gently sliced in half)
½ cup diced fresh strawberries
1½ cups granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir with your hand (or a whisk) to be sure the ingredients are combined. In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs and melted butter.
3. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the wet mixture into the well, and stir until just combined. There will be some lumps but don’t overmix the batter. Add the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and sugar and stir gently to combine.
4. Using a large spoon or scoop, spoon batter into the muffin cups to fill the liners. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned.

Pasta Primavera

This past Sunday morning I was doing my usual thing - grocery shopping at 7am... While I was at the checkout counter I was looking at the cooking magazines. The magazine that caught my eye had a dish of pasta on the front. I will post the name when I go upstairs to get the recipe/magazine. EDIT: magazine name is the Mixing Bowl by Better Homes & Garden.

The directions and ingredients sounded so simple. It was a very easy dish to make and tasted great.

Garden Special Primavera

6 ounces fresh wax or green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces (2 cups)

1/2 cup bias-sliced carrots

6 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)

1 cup broccoli flowerets

12 ounces fettuccine, linguine, vermicelli or spaghetti

1 small red and/or yellow sweet pepper, cut into julienne strips

1 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced (1 cup)

1 small onion, cut into thin wedges

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

2 ounces prosciutto or cooked ham, cut into thin strips (1/3 cup)

2 green onions, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried based, crushed

finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a large saucepan, cook beans and carrots in a small amount of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Add asparagus and broccoli. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and cook 5 minutes more or till vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions. Add sweet pepper and zucchini or yellow summer squash to pasta in boiling water for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Vegetable should be crisp-tender. Drain and return mixture to the saucepan. Add the bean mixture to the saucepan and keep it warm while preparing the sauce.

3. For the sauce; in a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender but not brown. Stir in chicken broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

4. In a small bowl, stir together whipping cream and flour. Add cream mixture to saucepan. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Stir in the 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, prosciutto or cooked ham, green onions and snipped basil. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Pour sauce over pasta and vegetables. Toss gently to coat.

5. Arrange pasta mixture on a large serving platter. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan and garnish with basil sprigs, if you like. Make 6 main-dish servings.

**** Since I found this magazine at the check out counter, I did not use the green beans. I also sliced the peppers larger than julienne, since I do not have the skills to julienne things.

Herb Garden update

Last month or so I posted some pictures of my small herb garden. I am so excited to have one. Two weeks ago when my parents were visiting I ended up giving my mom a good amount of the herbs we clipped together.

It has been raining practically non stop for the last 1.5 - 2 weeks. Today was the first day we have had sun in weeks. Although I have gone out several times to clips some herbs it was nice to get out to take pictures of it's progress.

The cilantro is growing crazy. I don't think I can make enough salsa to keep up with it.

Here are a few current pictures, parsley doing quite well, the whole garden:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was in the mood to make some cookies recently. My family loves homemade cookies. So I went thumbing through my cookbooks and came across this Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie recipe by Curtis Stone.

I absolutely love peanut butter and chocolate together (fav chocolate bar Reese's PB cups). These cookies are very easy to make.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoon (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 3 large heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, honey, egg and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Stir the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture in two additions. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Scoop about 3 tablespoons of dough for each cookie onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2.5 inches apart. Back for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies puff and begin to brown on top but are still very soft to the touch. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Then use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Enjoy the cookies warm or let them cool completely.

*** I used creamy peanut butter. My kids really don't care for nuts in their foods. I also use my small ice cream scooper to measure out the dough.

Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Gazpacho

The second recipe for the month of June was brought to us by Meryl of My Bit of Earth. She has chosen Gazpacho, which can be found in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook on page 79.

I can not recall if I have ever had Gazpacho and was a little reluctant to try it. I always thought soup was to be served hot. I figured what do I have to lose by making this recipe, except a few veggies and maybe 1/2 hr of my time. My oldest son actually came in the kitchen to help me out. He just wanted to push the buttons on the food processor.

I truly liked the Gazpacho. I thought the texture would bother me with small chunks of veggies but it didn't.

I think tomorrow night's dinner will be Gazpacho and sandwiches. Something easy before a scout meeting.



1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Cranberry Orange Scones

This month's BRC (Bonus Recipe Challenge) was picked by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef. She has chosen Ina’s Cranberry Orange Scones.

This recipe was very easy to make. I thought the scone was good but it needed more orange. Perhaps some orange extract or orange juice concentrate. I have been eating these like there is no tomorrow. I would be interested in your thoughts about the light orange flavor or if you have added anything to these.

Cranberry Orange Scones

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough.

Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch.

Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Curried Couscous

This has been quiet a week. My parents drove up from North Carolina. So I have cooking and baking my heart out.

The first June recipe is brought to us by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester. She has chosen Ina Garten's Curried Couscous.

I will be honest and the first to say my family is not big on couscous, BUT I had to give this recipe a try. We grilled some fresh salmon filets and served with the couscous. The couscous was pretty tasty. I had to try the "dressing" first and loved it enough to dunk my extra carrot sticks in. Sorry for the out of focus picture. My boys were impatient to eat.

Curried Couscous


1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion


Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Outrageous Brownies

The second recipe for the month of May was chosen by Eva of I’m Boring, who has chosen Outrageous Brownies by Ina Garten.

I was a little late in getting this posted due to a trip to Toronto.

I didn't read the whole recipe (a problem I have most of the time) and didn't read the part about tapping out the airbubbles half way through baking. So I have a feeling mine came out too fluffy. I love coffee and chocolate. So these brownies were right up my alley. Since my boys do not like nuts in their food I poured half the batter into my prepared pan and then mixed the nuts into the other half of the batter then baked. My boys enjoyed with warmed up with a mound of ice cream on the side. Mmmmm.......

I will have to say these are not for someone who is watching their diet or cholestoral, 6 eggs is a bit much...

I have to resize my photo and post later.

Outrageous Brownies

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.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Barefoot bloggers second recipe for May

I wanted to post this before hand but completely forgot all about it. We have been dealing with dealer/Ford regarding our lease and then our trip to Toronto.

We were away for the weekend visiting Toronto and that is why I never posted my recipe. Will do that tomorrow.