Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I've Been Doing

Hey everyone, I'm back!
We can all breathe a sigh of relief now.  Just gonna post a few pictures of a place we stayed at near Show Low, AZ.  We mostly sat around and enjoyed not being roasted, and also enjoyed all the rain.  It was lovely.  And ate a lot of meat.  I feel the need for a salad!

This is the cabin we stayed in. 

 Many moons ago it was a one room schoolhouse.  The doggie's name was Sarah, and she visited us daily to see if we had any scraps that needed taken care of.

Molly also helped with that.

Mara strikes a pose, and Simon sits on dangerous farm equipment.

Lovely scenery.
Paddle boatin'.

Fun in a creek.

Friendly horses who love Honey Nut Cheerios.  (oddly enough the horses across the lane hated them and went to great lengths to spit them out)  Btw...if cheerios are poisonous to horses please don't tell me, I don't think my psyche can take it.

We annoyed the crap out of this snake every day while he was trying to catch some rays.  Didn't mean to, just wanted to look at him.

My boy being a boy.

Blue bug!

So what's cookin' with all of you? 
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eggo Real Fruit Pizza Review

Going to be taking a bit of a break, but I wanted to leave you with my review of Eggo's Real Fruit Pizza, which I received as a part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program. 

I'm always tickled to receive a new product to try and thought these sounded like something we would like. 

 I like that they only take a minute in the microwave to prepare.  The crust was a little softer than I expected but it was still tasty.   I only had a little bite from each kind, and the kids finished them off.  In fact my son had berries smeared all over his face. It was pretty cute! He's already asked me if we can have some more.
  I'm not sure what exactly the frosting is made of but it's very good, and I really like the granola sprinkled over it.

 And just to let you know, the winner of my cookbook giveaway was Amanda.  Thanks to everybody for playing.!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich and a Freebie

I'm still on my tomato soup kick.  It makes my husband look at me funny, but I'm okay with that.  I was about to make another grilled cheese to go with it, but I thought, wait right there, hold the phones.  I've been wanting to try to make my own pimento cheese lately, so this seemed like a good time to do it.  
All I really remember about pimento cheese is that my dad took it in his lunch at least 80% of the time (along with Little Debbie Nutty Bars) and I never even once tried it.  Wouldn't touch the stuff.  It just looked gloppy and yucky.  But now I'm older, and slightly more adventurous, and this is what I came up with.

I liked this recipe because it used cream cheese instead of mayo.  I didn't read the whole recipe ahead and didn't realize I was going to have to blister and peel the red pepper so that threw me off a little, but other than that, there's nothing easier.  And it was perfect with my tomato soup!  

Here it is, from Serious Eats:

1 red bell pepper

8 ounces (about 3 cups) finely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) softened cream cheese, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Turn on the broiler. place the pepper on its side in a dry skillet and slide it under the broiler until the skin blackens on the side facing up, about 3 minutes. With tongs, turn the pepper so that an unblackened side faces up, and repeat until the skin is blackened on all sides. Place the pepper in a small bowl, cover it, and let it steam for 5 minutes as it cools down.

2. Uncover the bowl. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a cutting board, reserving any liquid in the bowl. Remove the blackened skin with your fingers and discard. Using a paring knife, cut open the pepper, remove and discard the stem and seeds, and chop the pepper into 1/4-inch dice. You should have a scant 1/2 cup.

3. Place the grated cheddar in a medium bowl and add the cream cheese pieces, the diced red pepper and its liquid, and the red pepper flakes, distributing them evenly over the cheese. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, blend the ingredients together until the spread is thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

4. Turn the blended cheese out onto a cutting board and use a spatula to gather it into a rectangular block about 5 inches long and 3 inches wide, and 2 inches high. Wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until ready to use. Slice and serve. Grillable pimento cheese keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  (I didn't do all that, I just smeared it on)

For Each Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Two 1/3-inch-thick slices Sally Lunn or other white bread (I used potato bread)

Three 1/3-inch-thick slices Pimento Cheese for Grilling

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Lightly toast the bread in a toaster or under the broiler. Place the cheese between the slices of toast.

2. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium hear. As soon as the butter is frothy, place the sandwich in the skillet. Pan-fry the sandwich for 6 minutes. Flip it with a spatula, cover the skillet, and cook for 3 minutes more.

3. Transfer to a cutting board, slice the sandwich diagonally with a serrated knife into two portable pieces.

I've got a few more of those little cookbook magazines to share with some one if you're interested.  There's nothing really ground-breaking or earthshattering in any of these, but there's some yummy sounding stuff and nice pictures.  
Some of these are pretty old, a couple are little tattered and wrinkled (like me :), from the early 90's even.

 If you're interested in receiving these just put the codeword "FREEBIE" in your comment somewhere, and I'll randomly pick a winner later this week, probably Thursday.   


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tomato Soup Wars

You know how you can go through your whole life thinking you don't really like a certain thing and then BAM, all of a sudden you do?  Well that's what happened to me when we went to Medieval Times Dinner Theater last month and were served tomato bisque.  I feel pretty sure it wasn't the best tomato bisque to ever exist in the world, but it awakened my taste buds and made me realize I do indeed like tomato soup.

  So after we got home I felt the need to try to recreate it .  In fact the meal in the above picture was my attempt to recreate everything we ate there (except they also served a rib and dessert).
This recipe I found at the Williams Sonoma website, and decided to make this one as it was made out of fresh roasted tomatoes.  It turned out to be a whole lot of work for not a lot of return.  In fact it was barely enough for the four of us.  And I don't really think I liked how the roasting brought out the sweetness in the tomatoes.

The next one I tried was Ellie Krieger's Tomato-Tortilla Soup I think I first saw at Stirring the Pot.  Only thing I did different was forgo the tortillas as I was in the garlic bread mood.  

 This is a really nice tomato soup with a kick, and the lime juice you add to it gives it a nice summery flavor.  I highly recommend it.

Lastly, today I just made a straight up plain tomato soup made from canned tomatoes.  The recipe is loosely based on the one I found at CuisineNie.  I made quite a few changes, including leaving out the cream as I'm not really into creamy tomato soup.

 I really like my soup in this bowl

 This one is a definite winner too.  Served with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and chopped up basil, it's perfect anytime.  Even on a day when the high is 115.

Here's the recipe, with the things I did differently.   

• 1 stick of unsalted butter
• 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 28 ounces canned whole plum tomatoes or crushed tomatoes (I used one and a half of these cans)
• 2 1/2 cups of organic free range chicken stock (used closer to 3 cups)
• 1 1/2 cup of cream or half and half (left out)
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Fresh torn basil and freshly grated asiago cheese on top.
(I added about 3/4 cup red wine)

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until onions have softened, about 15 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until tomatoes, onions, and garlic are soft, 10 to 20 minutes. Then add cream or half and half.
3. Working in batches, transfer soup to the jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Return to saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until soup is heated through. If soup seems too thick, stir in some extra stock to thin. Serve immediately and top with basil and asiago cheese.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TY's Baked Spaghetti

It's getting late, and I have to work tomorrow, so I probably should be sleeping. But no.  I'm sitting here posting pictures of spaghetti on the internet, because we all know the internet hasn't seen nearly enough spaghetti pictures.

But this is some pretty good spaghetti.

Probably the last of the Trisha Yearwood recipes I'll be doing for a while, since I have to take her book back to the library.  She definitely has some good looking stuff in that "Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood" edition.  Can't wait to check out the other one.
Anyway, we all enjoyed this, and I think it would be great for a potluck.  Her recipe calls for a little can of sliced olives, but I hate them so I left them out.  And I was a little skeeved out by pouring cream of mushroom soup right on top of the whole thing, but it's good.  Trust me.  

6 slices bacon
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
3 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with liquid
1-2 tbsp dried oregano to taste
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
12 oz thin spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 cups grated cheddar
1 10oz can cream of mushroom
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In large skillet, cook the bacon until slightly crisp, then cut into smaller pieces. Remove bacon and saute the garlic, onion, bell pepper until tender.
Add tomatoes, oregano, bacon and cooked beef.
Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Place half the spaghetti in the prepared pan. To with half the veg-beef mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheddar.
Repeat layers. Mix the canned soup and water until smooth and pour over the casserole. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

TY's Pork Medallions

It's official, Trish Yearwood is trying to kill me.  Eating all this pork and all this cake just can't be a good thing.  Wonder how she even sings if she eats as much of her cooking as I do, I can barely breath!  Hmm...maybe she has a little something called "self control".  I'll have to check into that.

Anyway, I usually don't get super excited about pork tenderloin.  But this recipe is pretty flavorful and really easy.  She directs you to marinade it overnight, but I found all day was sufficient.  Also one of the ingredients called for is "ginger sauce".  I perused the Asian aisle of several supermarkets and still don't know what that is.  I found a teriyaki sauce with triple ginger (it was made by kikkoman) so I just used that.  


 1/2 cup teriyaki marinade

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup ginger sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

1/4 cup V8 juice

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup orange marmalade

2 oranges

Mix the teriyaki marinade, vinegar, garlic, ginger sauce, and orange juice. Pour this mixture over the tenderloins in a roasting pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and put them, along with the chopped onion, in the hot oil. Sear the meat on all sides. Return the pork and onion to the marinade in the roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Mix the teriyaki sauce, V8 juice, honey, and orange marmalade. When 20 minutes are up, remove the pork from the oven, remove the foil, and with a very sharp knife cut deep slits into the meat. Pour the honey sauce into these slits and over the meat. Slice the unpeeled oranges into 1/4-inch crosswise pieces and arrange on the top and sides of the tenderloins. Return the meat to the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes, or until the orange slices begin to curl. Remove the meat from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into medallions. Transfer to a platter to serve.

The picture in her book had a nice deep caramely appearance, but mine looks a little anemic. It was tasty just the same.  And even though she's trying to kill me, I'm making her baked spaghetti tonight!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trisha Yearwood's Chocolate Torte

A yummy cake to leave you with for the weekend from Trisha's cookbook, "Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood".  I started to label this post "a delicious mess" but it after it was all said and done I thought it looked okay.  My only complaint was that the glaze turned out kinda lumpy and grainy, but it was still delicious.

 This little cakestand is a recent Goodwill find, and plastic which is perfect for those of us who suffer from dropsy. 

 You definitely want to have a few round cake pans so you can work faster.  I bought some disposable ones, and found that the cakes released from these better than my regular pans.  
I'm hoping for a potluck soon, because I really want to take this to work.  It's sure to be a morale booster!
 (if you do make this, be sure to note the recipe calls for self rising flour. I didn't notice and just threw in a little baking powder, it seemed to work ok)

Here's her recipe:

3 1/2 sticks butter (1 cup at room temp)
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
7 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups evaporated milk
3 tsp vanilla
 1 tbsp instant french roast coffee granules
6 large eggs, room temp.
2 cups plus 1 tbsp milk
4 cups self rising flour


Make the cake glaze first.  In a large saucepan melt 3/4 cups butter and mix it with melted chocolate and 4 1/2 cups sugar.  Stir in the evaporated milk, 2 tsp vanilla, and instant coffee.  Cook the glaze over med high heat until it boils.  
Reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes stirring constantly until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour at least 4 nine inch baking pans.
Cream together 1 cup butter and 2 1/2 cup sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Mix in 1 tsp vanilla with the milk, and add alternately with the flour, beginning and ending with the flour.

Put a very thin layer of batter (about 7 tbsp) in each pan, shaking to distribute the batter (I used the back of a small spoon).  Bake 11 to 13 minutes.   
 Remove layers from the pans, frost and layer immediately.  Repeat until all batter is gone, you should get 12 layers.

I found to get the glaze to stick to the sides I had to let it cool off quite a bit. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Seven Sporadic Questions: 3 B's...Baseball, Baking, and Books

Well, July is already proceeding at a rapid fire pace, so you know what that means....

This month we are visiting with Ingrid of 3B's-Baseball, Baking, and Books.
I've always enjoyed reading Ingrid's blog.  She's warm and funny, down to earth, and family oriented.  I've even been able to overlook the fact she's not a chocolate lover :)  She's got enough other yummy stuff to make up for it!  Let's jump right in, shall we?

1. What inspired you to start blogging?
A couple of years ago while I was checking out Martha Stewart's site I found the video clip of Bakerella making her cupcake pops. I googled Bakerella and followed her links to various other blogs. After a couple of months I decided I wanted to give it a try. The rest as they say is history!

2. What's your favorite thing to make for a crowd?
<---click there for recipe for this yummy looking smores cake

3. What's your favorite thing to make for just you?
Dessert, though nothing with raisins or chocolate!

4. If you could invite 3 famous people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be? Any particular reason?
Honestly there isn't anyone famous, dead or alive, that I'd want to have over to dinner. On the other hand I'd love to be invited to Ina's, Giada's, or Tyler's house for dinner. Though I cook for my family I prefer to bake. I find cooking savory foods more difficult than baking. With that said there are quite a few bloggers I'd love to have over for a bake-a-thon! :)

5. When you think of your childhood, do any favorite dishes come to mind?

I was one of those pain in the butt picky eaters growing up, so with the exception of Sunday's breakfast I didn't eat much outside of salads. I realize now that I missed out on a lot of very good meals as my Mom is an excellent cook!

6. What do you have in your kitchen that you just couldn't do without? ^(besides your stove/oven of courseI love my Cuisinart hand mixer. I use it more than I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

7. What's your favorite part of blogging? Do you think you'll keep doing it for a while?
My favorite part of blogging is interacting with my readers. They have encouraged and challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. (I hope I do the same for them.) Many of them, yourself included, I've come to consider friends and hope to one day meet!

I hope to continue to bake and blog...just wish my photos would magically improve. :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chiles Rellenos

Last month when we were on our way home from vacation, we were driving through the barren southern California desert.  When we were almost to the Arizona border we decided to stop in a dusty little town to find some sustenance and found a shabby little out of the way Mexican place.  When we sat down we were served some salsa that some of the family members deemed the best ever and so I thought to myself "this is probably the perfect place to get some awesome chiles rellenos".  I was wrong.  
So since that time I've had chiles rellenos on my mind and finally did what any self respecting desert dweller would do, and made them myself.  

This is yet another recipe from Tyler Florence's "Dinner At My Place".  

I thought these were just delicious.  The outside is crispy and light, and when you bite into it you're rewarded with melty, gooey cheese.  I served mine topped with sour cream and PW's salsa.

I'm glad I made them, although they are somewhat labor intensive.  Probably not something I will be doing everyday.  Here's the recipe...

6 poblanos
2 pounds queso fresco, room temperature
Kosher salt
6 egg whites
1 cup all-purpose flour
Extra-virgin olive oil
For serving:
1/4 small onion
3 baby radishes
2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Set the poblanos over an open gas flame on your stovetop for 30 to 45 seconds per side, rotating with metal tongs until they are blistered all over (or place poblanos on a roasting tray under the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes and turn occasionally until blistered on all sides). Once blistered, place hot poblanos in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to let the poblanos steam, about 2 minutes. Use a kitchen towel to "rub" off the blistered skin, then use a sharp paring knife to make a slit the length of each poblano. Remove the ribs and seeds carefully so you don't tear the poblanos. Sprinkle poblanos lightly with salt. Stuff the inside of each poblano with queso fresco. Secure the openings with toothpicks.
2. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with 1/4 inch oil. Meanwhile, whisk egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Place the flour in a medium bowl. Dredge the stuffed poblanos in flour, coat in egg whites, and fry in the hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden on both sides. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until heated through.
3. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, shave onion and radishes into rings. Garnish poblanos with onion, radishes, queso fresco, and cilantro.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Pillow Talk

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was given the opportunity to review a product from CSN stores.  The product arrived this past week, and I have reviewed.  
The product in question...

The Foreverloft Memory Foam 3 in 1 Pillow

  Oh yeah.

I've had a hard time finding a pillow I liked over the past few months.  
But I think this one is gonna be "the one".  
It's all soft and squishy on the outside, then has two foam inserts that can be removed, depending on the amount of support you like.  

I personally like it without the inserts at all, since I'm a tummy sleeper.  My husband says he likes it better with them in there.  (as if he's ever gonna get to use it!)   If everything in my life could be as comforting and accommodating as this pillow, I'd have it made!

And just for fun, here's a little snippet of another dish I made from Tyler Florence's "Dinner At My Place".  To be posted in a few days.