Friday, May 13, 2011

Baked Pasta Something or another

This dish was really good. I mean, really, really good. Probably one of my better off the cuff experiments. It started off with me being broke, having a few random pasta ingredients in the fridge and needing to make a cheap dinner that would make good leftovers for lunch. I found a recipe on weight watchers of a baked ziti dish that looked promising. So I went with that concept but basically made something up completely on my own.

I cooked 2 heaping cups of penne pasta to al dente. I made a sauce with 1 can diced tomatoes/1 can crushed tomatoes with fresh basil, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, salt, wee pinch of sugar, pepper, crushed red pepper and dry oregano. I don't measure anything so, um, add that stuff til it tastes good. While that was bubbling away I wilted down some baby spinach in olive oil (about a cup or so), chopped up some pepperonis and mixed one cup of ricotta cheese w/one egg.

Then I layered everything in my casserole dish. I started with sauce, added some pasta, ricotta, pepperoni, sauce, pasta, ricotta, pepperoni, spinach, pasta, ricotta, sauce and topped it all off with some shredded mozzarella. I threw it in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes or so. I then broiled the top for about a minute or 2 just to get the cheese nice and brown. So basically it was sort of a lasagna w/different noodles and super easy to throw together. I'll definitely make this again, it's hardly any more difficult than spaghetti but so much tastier.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Strawberry fields forever.

So this past weekend my Mom came up for a visit for Mother's day. On her way she stopped at a strawberry stand on the side of the road and picked up a GALLON of strawberries. My friends, that's a lot of strawberries. But it was ok because they were GOOD strawberries! Delicious, dark red, juicy, flavorful strawberries. Not anything like those bitter, whiteish, sad imposters you find at Kroger.

Farm fresh strawberries.

(this was after we raided the basket to make ice cream and jam)

Between eating the strawberries as they were, we made Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream, which is AWESOME. I've never been a fan of strawberry ice cream but this stuff is good. I think I even liked it best before we froze it. Before freezing it was the best strawberry milkshake ever!This was definitely the easiest batch of ice cream to make too. Macerate the berries in a tablespoon of vodka and 3/4 of a sugar for about an hour. Throw it in a blender with a cup of sour cream and a cup of cream and blend away! That's it!

(see those seeds? that's strawberry ice cream made with actual strawberries! i wish the photo could actually capture how pink this stuff really is. it's very, very pink!)

We also made a metric crap ton (ok, 9 cups, but seriously, i'll never get through all of that!) of strawberry freezer jam. We just followed the instructions for jam that came with the pectin box. It was super simple, boil some sugar, slice some strawberries (we threw them into the food processor) then mix together.

This stuff is really tasty and I'll definitely be making more toast and biscuits for breakfast so I can gobble it all up. But I imagine I'll be sharing with lucky friends and family too. If they ask nicely.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate Oatmeal Porter Cupcakes

Yesterday I was in the mood to bake and we had a dinner invitation over to our friends so I decided that would be the perfect excuse to bring dessert. Kevin's latest issue of Beer Advocate had just come in the mail and a cupcake recipe in it caught my eye. Beer + Cupcakes? Sounds like a winning combo to me! I didn't used the beer called for in the recipe but I don't think that make a big difference at all.

Aren't they so pretty?

Melting the chocolate for the ganache.

I have to say I'm a big fan of the dip and twirl ganache for topping cupcakes. So much easier and cleaner than frosting cupcakes.

The recipe was supposed to make 24 cupcakes but I made some big ones and some little ones so I wound up with 16 big cupcakes and 13 mini cupcakes. They're a darker, richer chocolate flavor and not overly sweet. I refer to them as grown up cupcakes. The recipe calls for malt power instead of white sugar so it has a different flavor to it. I think you can tell the beer is there but it's not overwhelming. They're a little dryer than your usual box mix, but that seems to be the case with most homemade cupcakes.  I think the recipe could use some tweaking but it's not a bad one to start with.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ice Cream Part 4

Ice cream step by step. Sort of. Well, not really but there are multiple pictures. There are 3 things that make Tin Roof Ice Cream.

Vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate covered peanuts. Chopped into pieces.

And fudge ripple.

I completely spazzed out and forgot to take a picture of the ice cream once it was combined but just imagine that it was beautiful and delicious. Because it was. The fudge ripple was AMAZING. So chocolaty and so delicious. I won't lie, I ate a few spoonfuls of it by itself before pouring it onto the ice cream. And then a few spoonfuls after of what was left. In fact there's still some in the fridge and when I need a sudden chocolate fix I have a spoon. It's just that damn good.

We shared this ice cream with Kevin's parents when they came down for the weekend. They both really enjoyed it. His Dad even said it was one of the best desserts he's ever had. So yay! Other people enjoy my ice cream! I'd still rank this one below the white chocolate and butterscotch pecan, but it was definitely better than the chocolate. I definitely wouldn't mind making it again though. Maybe once I make may way through the rest of the Perfect Scoop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pork chops and sauerkraut

This recipe comes from the blog Serious Eats. Manda directed me to this blog a few weeks back and I've found a number of tasty recipes on it, including this one. Kev gets a lot of credit for this dinner. I did some of the prep work and tossed the potatoes into the oven to roast but he did the actual cooking, so yay for him.

The pork chops went really well with the sauerkraut. The sauerkraut was slightly sweet from the apple juice so it had that pork/apple thing going on that works so well together but it was a nice change of pace from the usual pork chop/applesauce combo (I almost typed asslesauce, that doesn't sound nearly as appetizing).  The potatoes were just tossed with some olive oil and onion soup mix. Low brow but tasty.

For dinner tonight I made this ginger salmon recipe from Budget Bytes. It was good. Not life changing, but pretty good and easy to throw together. The thing I was really impressed with was the mushrooms I made. I told Kev to pick up a vegetable to go with the salmon and he came home with mushrooms.

Not a vegetable but we love mushrooms in this house so I'll let it slide. I wanted to do something "asian-y" with them to go with the flavors of the salmon so I put a bit of sesame oil in the pan, tossed the mushrooms with some sriracha, fish sauce and sweet chili sauce in the bowl where I made the salmon glaze so a little but of that made it into the mix too. I sauteed that while cooking the salmon and they came out great. Oh so slightly sweet with some nice heat in the background and very delicious served over rice. Probably one of my better 'wing it' recipes I've thrown together.
I wish I had taken a picture of them.

A new ice cream post to come soon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ice cream part 3

It's a double whammy tonight! Two posts! In one night! Because I'm a total slacker!

For our third batch of ice cream Kev and I decided to go with something chocolaty. The recipe was for a Guinness Milk Chocolate ice cream but this turned out to be a Baltic Porter Chocolate ice cream. The Baltic Porter was one of Kevin's home brews and I used semi-sweet chocolate rather than milk chocolate. You could definitely pick up the beer in the ice cream and it was very intensely chocolate even though I used one ounce less chocolate than the recipe called for since that's all that I had on hand.

It was delicious, of course. But I think this one ranks at #3 behind the butterscotch pecan and white chocolate ice creams. The base for a batch of tin roof is chillin' in the fridge now. That's vanilla ice cream with fudge ripple and chocolate covered peanuts. My fudge ripple is cooling now and I'll make the peanuts tomorrow. It's a bit more labor intensive with the add ins but it's for a special occassion. Kev's parents are coming into town this weekend. Hopefully they'll like it!

Thai Coconut Chicken Curry

I can't believe I forgot to post about the grand finale of my adventure through Thailand. I did make some curry. Thai Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk to be exact.

I came about this recipe by googling coconut milk recipes and it was one of the first ones that came up. I already had almost all of the ingredients on hand so it was a nobrainer to make. I added extra curry paste and threw in some frozen peas for some extra vegetation. Overall the recipe was ok. It tasted good sure, but it didn't really have any heat to it. I probably used too much coconut milk (I just used up what I had left) so that probably mellowed out the curry paste quite a bit. That was my only real complaint though and that's easily remedied by kicking it up a notch with the curry paste. I'll definitely try my hand at curry again.