Sunday, May 31, 2009


I am a sucker for beautiful produce.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Roasted Potatoes

I threw some roasted potatoes together to go with our dinner of turkey burgers last night. Tim loves red potatoes, and so I bought a bag, and this is what I decided to do with them:

3lbs of red potatoes
Kosher Salt
Fresh Chives
Dried Parsley
1/4 C Basil Olive Oil
Fresh Minced Garlic

You will notice in the above list of ingredients that only two things have an exact amount. Those are the important ratios, just do everything else to taste. I definitely made this up as I went along, so I would encourage you to use whatever flavors you like, omit anything you don't like or don't have on hand.

Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees

Scrub and halve your potatoes. Some red potatoes can be pretty big, so quarter those. Your main objective here is to get them all to be about the same size so that they cook evenly. They should also be somewhere close to bite size.

Put the cut potatoes into a large bowl and pour in the 1/4 C Olive Oil. Our olive oil has basil in it, and it is really really good, but you can use regular olive oil as well, it won't make a huge difference.

Now you are going to add in all of your seasonings, and toss the potatoes until they are evenly coated.

I am not sure what you call the garlic tool pictured above; it was a very early birthday present from my mom and my sister, and I have used it almost every day since i got it about 2 weeks ago! You get a lot more usable garlic-per-clove and it has a much better flavor than normal minced garlic.
Do you see those beautiful chives in there? I chopped those off of a chive plant that is sitting in my kitchen window, courtesy of my mother-in-law.
I have a great family that encourages my love for feeding people :-)

After you toss everything together and it all looks like it is mixed evenly, spread the potatoes on a cookie sheet, the kind with raised edges, so that the oil does not spill off, and toss 'em in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the potatoes out and mix them around, put them back in for another 10 minutes. Now take them out, and check if they are done. How will you know they are done? They will be brown and crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. If you cannot easily stick a fork through them, they are not done. If needed, stick them in the oven for one more 10 minute round, they should be done after that. If you are waiting for the rest of the meal to be prepared, turn the oven off and leave the potatoes in the oven with door closed until you are ready to eat. This will keep them warm.

Here is what our dinner looked like, on a beautiful spring evening:

Here we are, well minus me, eating our dinner outside. Yay!

From Left: Anna, Brian, Tim, and Joka in the background
Brian and Anna are recently engaged. Be excited for them!

And then the guys cleaned up while I leisurely stood by taking pictures. This never happens. It was really nice

I wish every night could be like last night. The end.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Frozen Apple and Peanut Butter Cloud Pie

This pie just won the Pie-Making Contest at our church. I have a cookbook with 100 Apple Pie recipes in it. Apple Pie is Tim's absolute favorite dessert, so this book is a very important one in our house. I was originally looking for a good basic apple pie to make, so as not to stand-out, but simply to make sure we had enough pies in the contest. However, I came across this recipe, and I could not pass it up. Apples and Peanut butter are my favorite afternoon snack, and I have this snack at least a few times a week. So, when I saw this combination in pie form, I had to try it! It was every bit as amazing as I had expected. Not as healthy as my normal apple-peanut butter snack, so unfortunately I cannot eat it several times a week, but this is one I will keep around to impress people with now and then :-)

Recipe from Apple Pie Perfect

Graham Cracker Crust:

10 whole graham crackers
1/4 C firmly pack brown sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Big pinch of salt
5 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan.
Break up crackers coarsely and process them in a food processor, along with the brown sugar, until fine. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the cinnamon and salt. Add the melted butter and incorporate. Mix until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
Spread the crumbs evenly and loosely in a pie pan. Press the mixture into the bottom and then up the sides.

You don't have to get the crust all the way up the sides, but try for at least half-way.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before filling.

Apple Layer:

2 T unsalted butter
3 Firm-Textured apples (such as golden delicious or northern spy) Peeled, cored, and sliced.
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 t lemon juice
2 T confectioner's sugar

Peanut Butter Cloud Layer:

1 C Heavy Cream
one 8-OZ Package of cream cheese, softened
1 C Smooth peanut butter
3/4 Granulated sugar
1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar
2 t vanilla extract
2 Lrg Egg whites

To prepare the apple layer, melt the butter in a large pan. Stir in the apples and granulated sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and confectioner's sugar and cook, stirring for one minute longer. Remove from heat and scrape the apples into a bowl or plate and let cool thoroughly.

When the apples have cooled, spoon them into the crust.

If there is a good amount of juice, use a slotted spoon and reserve the juice. Put pie in the freezer. If you have saved juice, wait until the pie has been freezing for 20 minutes, then spoon the juice over the pie.

To make the peanut butter cloud layer, use an electric mixer to whip the heavy cream until it holds semi-firm peaks. Cover and refrigerate.


Using the mixer, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add in the sugars, then the vanilla. The mixture will be lumpy, like cookie dough.

Add the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture, slowly blending them together until smooth.

Now, I want to stop here and point something out. At this stage we have a peanut butter whipped cream. If you are any where near as much of a peanut butter fanatic as I am, you will have a very difficult time not stopping, getting a spoon, and finishing off this concoction right here and now. Don't do it. Take a spoonful and taste it. It is glorious. It will taste amazing on top of that frozen apple pie, so don't sell it short by ending it's life here.

Clean and dry your beaters, and bowl if you are using a stand mixer. Make sure you get them completely clean because we will be whipping egg whites next, and if there is any fat left on the bowl the egg whites will not whip correctly. Beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

A stiff peak is when the egg whites will stand up in a peak without folding over at all. If the tip of the peak dips over, it is a soft peak, and you are not quite there yet.

Fold the whites into the peanut butter mixture with a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Spread the mixture over the apple layer and smooth with a spoon.

Freeze the pie for about 15 minutes, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and freeze for at least 5 hours more. Remove the pie from the freezer 15 minutes before slicing it.

Seriously, this pie is amazing, and really fun to make. That is all I can say, I hope you will make it.

Poppy Seed Roll

I have never eaten/seen/made a poppy seed roll in my life, until yesterday. This was Tim's requested dessert as we were having family over to celebrate his being baptized today. I wanted to make him something special, so I did my best to create this concoction with no prior knowledge of what it should look or taste like. I think it was a success, unless everyone who ate it was lying to me. I thought it tasted pretty darn good, I will do this again for sure.

I started with a sweet bread dough, I used my favorite recipe, you can follow this one, or use your own favorite if you have one.

For the Poppy Seed filling you will need:

1 Can Solo Poppy Seed Filling
Butter for Dotting

Sweet Bread Dough (from the cinnamon bread recipe in Simply In Season):

1/4 C Warm Water
1 T Dry Active Yeast
2 C Whole Wheat Flour
1 C Milk, scalded
3/4 C Orange Juice
1/2 C Sugar
1/4 C Oil or Butter
1 Egg
1 T Orange Zest
1.5 t Salt

4.5-5.5 C Bread Flour

Combine warm water and yeast in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve.

Combine whole wheat flour, scalded milk, orange juice, sugar, oil or butter, egg, orange zest, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. When cooled to luke warm, add yeast mixture. (make sure the large mixture is cooled enough because otherwise you will kill the yeast, it is very temperamental!)

Add enough bread flour (this is the 4.5-5.5 C) to make a soft dough. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, turn to grease both sides (this will prevent a hard layer from forming on the outside of the dough). Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size. you will know that it is doubled in size when you lightly press the dough with your finger and the indentation remains in the dough. This will take about an hour and 15 minutes. After the dough has doubled, punch it down and divide it in half. Roll or stretch each half into a rectangle about 15 x 7 inches.

This is where you add your filling. If you are using poppy seeds, grab a can of Solo Poppy Seed Filling,

use half of the can on one half of the dough, and the other half on the other (duh, right?)

Dot this with butter,

and roll it up like a jelly roll (from the short end). Cover the rolls again and let rise until they are doubled, again.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Place the rolls on greased cookie sheets, and make slices in the dough as if you are cutting it into pieces, but do not go all the way to each end. The best way to show this is with the picture below:

Bake these in preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then remove and cool on a wire rack.

If you want to make this into Cinnamon Bread instead of Poppy Seed, simply use a mixture of 1/3 C Sugar and 1 T Cinnamon for the filling. Eliminate the butter dotting and do not slice the dough once it is rolled up. Allow it to rise the second time as described above, but do the second rise in loaf pans and bake in loaf pans as well. Both are wonderful, and you should try them. They make great gifts, and people are always impressed with home-made bread :-)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This is What Happens When I Get Creative

I made two things for the Cafe at church today. Neither of my initial plans for said recipes worked out the way that I intended. The first was a Key Lime pie, suggested by my sister-in -law, for the promotion of the Pie Making Contest that we will be having in a few weeks. The second was cucumber sandwiches. Both seem easy enough, right? Well they were until I got creative, and thought I could make them all cute and exciting. I tried to make a meringue to top the key lime pie with. I have never made a meringue, but have read several sets of instructions, so I thought, I, being the talented baker that I am, can easily pull this off. Wrong. My "meringue" was sad, flat, and ultimately ended up "wilting", or being separated from the pie by a layer of liquid. The pie itself is absolutely delicious, but there is no way that I can serve that to anyone other than my husband, and other people who I am confident know that I am a good baker. So, Tim is happy because he got a free pie out of the deal, and he could care less what it looks like. I ended up going to Tony's and buying a pie to serve at church. No one seemed to care that it wasn't home-made. I will share the pie recipe with you, because I do highly recommend it. I will make it again, probably without the meringue, until I have practiced enough.
The problem that I had with the cucumber sandwiches was that I wanted to make them with the Pampered Chef Cut and Seal. This did not work because the cucumbers were too thick, and the bread started tearing. So, I just decided to for-go the idea and make them like normal sandwiches. Not as cute, but they still almost all disappeared, and I kept hearing people say how good they were! I was bummed though because I have been desperately searching for a time/place to use this tool since my Mom gave it to me in December. My next attempt with these will be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I think will work well. I will keep you posted on that. I am also going to give you the "recipe" for these, if you can even call it that. It is so simple, but it is a great snack, super easy, and pretty healthy. It is something you should know how to do in case you need to make a simple appetizer or snack and don't have a ton of money or time to spend.

Key Lime Pie

14 OZ Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 C Key Lime Juice (I used fresh squeezed because every recipe that I consulted said that it is way better. It is a lot of work though, so if you want to do this quickly, you can use ready-made juice)
1 t Grated Lime Zest
2 Egg Yolks
1 Egg

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/3 C Graham Cracker Crumbs
5 T Butter
You can use a pre-made crust if you want to. I bet no one would notice, I just have a guilt-complex about serving store-bought foods...

2 Egg Whites
4 T White Sugar

To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs with butter until evenly moistened.

Press into the bottom of a prepared Pie Pan, and bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. This is called baking blind. It makes it so that the crust does not get all soggy when you add the filling to it. Baking the crust by itself allows it to get more firm, and it holds together a lot better this way. You can eliminate this step if you really want to, and if you plan to serve it from the pan that you are baking it in, but I still would recommend it.

To Make the filling, combine sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and zest in a medium bowl. Mix in egg yolks and whole egg. Pour over crust, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the meringue, beat egg whites in a large glass or metal mixing bowl until foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until whites for stiff peaks. Spread meringue over pie, covering completely.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Chill before serving.

Here is what happened to my meringue...

First of all, you can see that it looks nothing like meringue should is all flat and gross. It also cracked when I took the pan out of the oven. I was using a silicone pan., and it bent a little when I was getting it out, so that just made it look worse...
I think I failed to whip the eggs long enough, and supposedly the wilting of the meringue is due to un-dissolved sugar, which means that I did not add the sugar gradually enough. I have to keep practicing this technique, and Tim will probably have a lot of screwed-up pies to eat while I learn the process. If anyone has any tips on this, let me know!

Here is what my failed cucumber sandwiches looked like...

The bread got all ripped on top, oh well. Here is what I did instead:

I sliced my cucumbers pretty thick, because then you can use one per "sandwich" which is a lot easier than trying to layer the cucumbers. That can get pretty messy when you go to eat them because they are all slippery.

Spread Miracle Whip or Mayonaise on a slice of white bread. Layer 4 cucumbers on top of that.

Spread Miracle Whip/mayonaise on another piece of white bread and cover your cucumbers. Cut this sandwich into 4 individual sandwiches, and there you have it. Make as many as you want. Super easy, nutritious, and delicious! what else could you ask for?

All dressed up and ready for church.

I just thought this one was cute :-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

I found this wonderful recipe on Smitten Kitchen's blog. It is delicious, healthy, colorful, and extremely easy and quick (which is very important when you are famished after a long day of work!) I get to the famished point very quickly as my blood sugar tends to fall fast and hard at which point I can think of nothing other than avoiding the inevitable migraine by eating anything and everything I can get my hands on. So, this is a perfect meal for one of those times, and any other time you want something delicious and simple. I do believe that I could handle this recipe, even at that pre-migraine stage; that is just how simple it is. Without further ado, here is Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Huevos Ranchero's:

For the fresh salsa topping you will need:

2 Large, Fresh, Ripe Tomatoes
1/2 Large White Onion, peeled and minced
3 cloves minced, raw Garlic (if you are not a huge fan of garlic, you may want to use less. I found this amount to be quite desirable which may say that it would be too much for most people)
1 Habanero or Jalapeno Pepper stemmed, seeded, and minced ( I left this out because I do not like anything spicy and Tim has a deep hatred for jalapeno peppers)
1/4 C Cilantro Leaves
1 T Fresh Lime Juice or 1 t Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving to allow all of the flavors to combine. Smitten Kitchen suggests using this within a few hours. I snacked on the leftovers the next day and they were still delicious.

And now for the main event, here is what you will need for the Huevos Rancheros:
6-inch Corn Tortillas
some Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Black Beans

There is not an exact amount of any of the above ingredients because you can make as many or as little of these beauties as you want.

Heat a tortilla in an oiled pan. When it is golden brown on the bottom, flip it over. Sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on the browned side and allow it to melt. You can use as much or as little cheese as you want to. I gave Tim extra because he is a cheese addict. Break an egg over the tortilla. Season with salt and pepper.

It is okay for the egg to spill over the edge of the tortilla. You are just going to cover it with salsa and all sorts of other goodness, so who cares what it looks like!

When the egg is about halfway set, flip it over again. This is the fun part. You don't have to do it perfectly, or even well. I am a terrible flipper. I always make Tim do all the pancake flipping in our house because I am not even close to careful enough. I love this recipe because I can finally do the flipping! So, pick it up with a big sturdy spatula, and flip it over knowing that this is not going to look beautiful whether you are a perfectionist or not. Cook it for a few minutes on this side to let the egg finish cooking, and stick it on your plate. Repeat this process to create as many huevos rancheros as you need to satisfy the hungry crowd that has gathered as a result of the tasty smell coming from your kitchen. Top it with your fresh salsa, or you can use jarred salsa if you do not want to make your own-it will just be a little more liquidy/messy that way. Add sour cream, guacamole, and whatever else you like. Serve with black beans and tortilla chips, or if you're me, put the black beans on top of you Huevo Ranchero, and dig-in.

This was also delicious with a Goose Island Summertime Brew. I highly recommend the combination if you are a beer lover.