Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Charred Tomatoes with Fried Eggs on Garlic Toast

This is so super-simple but something I never would have thought to do without Ms Martha Stewart tipping me off. It was a lovely and quick dinner and I loved every bit of it.


Charred Tomatoes with Fried Eggs on Garlic Toast
Martha Stewart Living, September 2013

4 slices rustic bread, toasted
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 small tomatoes, such as cocktail or campari, halved

Rub toasted bread with garlic and brush with oil. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet and cook, undisturbed, until whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate.

Increase heat to medium-high. Brush cut sides of tomatoes with oil. Sear, cut sides down and undisturbed, until charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer 2 tomato halves to each piece of toast with a spatula and lightly mash. Season with salt and pepper and top with fried eggs.

Servings: 4

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cookie Monday: White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

I wanted to branch out and try something different this week for Cookie Monday so I went with this cookie, which has a little swirl of raspberry throughout it. It's supposedly a 'copycat' recipe for a cookie served at Disneyland but I have no way to compare the two so I don't know how accurate this is.

The process of making these was a little bit rough. First of all, my beloved beater blade/spatula snapped in half just as the dough finished. I mourn the loss, even though I have already ordered a replacement. It lasted a really long time. (YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. It's the most genius Kitchenaid attachment EVER.) Then, the dough was so dry and crumbly that I almost thought it was unusable. I used it anyway though and just did a lot of smushing together. I don't know why this happened, since the recipe talks about using a melon baller to scoop the dough and there is NO WAY I would have been able to scoop this powdery mess. It looked nothing like the photos on the original post. I read the comments on the original blog and it seems a lot of people had the same issue as me.

But! I doubled the recipe and got about 4 dozen cookies. I came home with none! They were an interesting and unique little cookie for a Monday.

***I didn't have a chance to take a picture and now they're all gone***

Disneyland’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cookie
My Baker Lady via Pinterest

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons raspberry jam
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream the butter & sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg/yolk, vanilla and almond extracts. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add white & semi-sweet chocolate chips.

2. Scoop out about 1/4 of the dough into a smaller bowl. Add about 1 tablespoon of jam and cut it in using a butter knife. Be careful not to MIX it, or your dough will turn pink. You want more of a swirl.

3. Take the jam swirled dough and scoop by spoonfuls using a large melon baller or ice cream scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon or spatula and place in a 350° oven for 12-17 minutes. Your bake time may be less depending on the size of cookie you make. To make them big and bakery sized, they take a little longer. Take them out when the edges are set but the center is still puffy and soft. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 until all the dough is used.

Yield: About 2 dozen

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cookie Monday: Brown Butter Rolo Chocolate Chip Cookies

For Cookie Monday this week, I repeated one of my favorite cookies: Brown Butter Rolo Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies. I did not have any toffee bits, so I omitted that, and I only had regular-sized chocolate chips, so I used those. All was well and they were still delicious.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

To Die For Crock Pot Roast

My gentleman has been working night shift Monday through Friday for the past 7 months and I worry frequently about his food intake because he sleeps odd hours and misses regular meals. The other day, I thought perhaps we might try exploring the crockpot as an option. He could start the food when he gets home from work in the morning and eat it when he wakes up at 9pm, before going to work. It makes large amounts, too, so he could take the leftovers for 3am "lunches."

So a few hours after pondering this with him, he came home with all the ingredients to make this pot roast in the crockpot. Trimmed up a big chunk of meat, added some baby carrots and quartered Yukon Gold potatoes, and set it on low. By the time he woke up, it was all done. Perfect.

The problem with cooking things in the crockpot is that the meat gets very tender but it is cooked all the way through and looked kind of gross. Per his report, it was delicious. I hope we will try more crockpot recipes for him in the future.


To Die For Crock Pot Roast

1 (4 -5 lb) beef roast, any kind
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package brown gravy mix, dry
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package ranch dressing mix, dry
1/2 cup water

Place beef roast in crock pot. Mix the dried mixes together in a bowl and sprinkle over the roast. Pour the water around the roast. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Peanut Butter Buckeye Pretzel Bites

I made something similar to these last year - Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites. There were some small differences in the recipe, but the biggest difference was in how they were built. The last ones were kind of free-form, with everything glopped on top of a pretzel. These were very neat and beautiful, and the double-pretzeling helped the peanut butter stay in better.

So we all loved these. Except people who don't like peanut butter. But these seriously are delicious. I actually used chocolate candy melts this time (which have an oil in them to help the chocolate be smoother and shinier) and it looked WAY better than when I dip things in chocolate chips. They were lovely. These really aren't difficult though. I'm very proud of them and I'd definitely make them again for any reason whatsoever.


Peanut Butter Buckeye Pretzels
Inside BruCrew Life (she has the BEST stuff)

1 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Waffle pretzels
12 ounces chocolate candy coating

Beat the peanut butter, butter, salt, and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Roll into small balls and let set.

Place a peanut butter ball between 2 pretzels and press together.

Heat the chocolate coating up for one minute in the microwave. Stir until melted and creamy. Dip each peanut butter filled pretzel in the melted chocolate. Use a fork to remove from the chocolate. Tap the excess chocolate off and place the pretzels on waxed paper to set. Store in a sealed container.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Oatmeal Scotchies

With the release of Anchorman 2, I felt like it was the right time to make these Oatmeal Scotchies (get it? Scotchies? Scotchy scotch scotch?) for Cookie Monday. But Anchorman came out around Christmas and everyone was cookied out, and then last week I started making these but discovered I had no oats. So I finally made them for this week. I used the recipe from the Quaker Oats website, because my mom has been using this recipe for years. I loved these cookies growing up. They remind me of my childhood. Love it so much.

Apparently when I make them myself though, I am an utter failure. I have no idea what I did wrong, but these were dry and crumbly instead of chewy and soft. Still tasty, but not how they were intended to be. I will try this again and see what happened there. Man, I'm really striking out with baking this week.


In a fun twist, we obtained some Ben & Jerry's Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream and put it ON TOP OF THE COOKIE. Recommended.


Oatmeal Scotchies
Quaker Oats

1/2 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker Oats -- (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 package butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add oats and butterscotch morsels; mix well. Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7 to 8 minutes for a chewy cookie or 9 to 10 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Yield: 4 dozen

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Winterfell Black Bread

To go with the Guinness beef stew I made yesterday, I thought it would be fun to bake some dark, soft buttered bread. I have a Game of Thrones Cookbook (I know, it's kitschy, but the ironically-titled Hunger Games Cookbook has some of the best recipes I've ever made, so I was hopeful). There is a recipe in it for Winterfell Black Bread (which also can be found on Epicurious), and I thought it sounded promising.

And I'm sure it could have been promising if I hadn't totally screwed it up. I've tried so hard to figure out what I did wrong. It didn't rise. At any point. But I'd committed, so I stuffed it into a pan and baked it anyway. The yeast had bubbled like it was supposed to when I mixed up the starter, and the dough had the right elasticity when I was kneading it. Was the temperature of the house wrong? Did the yeast suddenly decide not to work? Was the bread flour not working properly? What the hell happened?

We'll never know. What we will know is that this is the monstrosity that came out of the oven.


Instead of rising over the top of a 9x5 bread pan, the thickness of this is approximately 1 inch. It's awful. My friend said he'd try it, so he took a bite and said, "I know you tried, but this is just awful." My gentleman suggested I place it in the trash (which I did). It was just not yummy at all. Ugh. If you try this and it works, please let me know!


Winterfell Black Bread
The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler
(Also on Epicurious)

2/3 cup warm water
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast -- (1 package)
3 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup medium rye flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds -- toasted and ground
2 cups bread flour -- (2-3)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon strong coffee

1. In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the molasses. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Add remaining molasses, oil, and rye flour; stir to combine. Add salt, caraway, and enough bread flour to create a firm dough. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5-8 minutes. Return to bowl, dust the top with flour, and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

3. Coat a 9" x 5" loaf pan with pan spray and line the bottom and short sides with a strip of parchment. (If you don't have pan spray and parchment, grease the bottom and sides of pan with vegetable shortening.) Turn risen dough onto a floured surface and shape into an oblong loaf. Place into prepared pan and set aside to proof for 30 minutes, or until dough rises above the pan. Preheat oven to 350°F.

4. Combine honey and coffee; brush gently onto the surface of risen dough. Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 30-40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely on a rack.

Yield: 1 loaf

Guinness Beef Stew

Yesterday was playoff day in our house so naturally that meant another meat recipe. My gentleman has been wanting to try a Guinness beef stew, and given all the snow and ice outside, it seemed appropriate to make. My gentleman cut up the chuck roast and coated it and I seared it. One of our friends chopped up the vegetables. It was a nice team effort. Then it simmered for an hour and a half.


Then it was done! The consensus was that it was very good. My gentleman felt it was "a little boozy" and felt that the Guinness was very prominent, whereas our friend didn't feel that it tasted beery at all. That was interesting to me. Obviously I have no input as I didn't eat any of it. But it was fun to make.


Guinness Beef Stew
Gimme Some Oven via Pinterest

3 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup flour, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (11.2 oz) bottle Guiness stout beer, divided
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick coins
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper; dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess. Add half of beef to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and beef. Remove beef from pan.

2. Add onion to the pot, then saute until softened and translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the 1 cup of Guinness, and stir for 1 minute, being sure to scratch the bottom of the pan to lift up any brown bits. Add carrots, potatoes, beef broth, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, and the cooked meat (along with any of its accumulated juices) to pan. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer. Simmer over low for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding additional water as needed.

3. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup flour into the remaining Guinness until dissolved. Stir into stew until thickened. Remove bay leaf and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm garnished with chopped parsley if desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Hoppin' John

My mom is from Texas so it's just become standard that on New Year's we have some kind of black eyed peas. These are not the most delicious of beans, but oh well. I remember one year my mom heated them up with some queso dip and we decided that was good enough. I am a scientific and factual person, but I am also a person with OCD, so I had to make some black eyed peas this year. I decided to go straight for the traditional meal - hoppin' john.


Usually hoppin' john is made with ham hock and collard greens and stuff, so I found a vegetarian version. It actually is a vegan version. I adapted it a little bit. It calls for things like Braggs (amino acids) and Bac-O's and I was not into that. You can substitute soy sauce for the Braggs so I did that instead. I used Emeril's Bayou Blast seasoning and that worked very well. I also added in some bacon to Brandon's, but he didn't eat it because he went to work and forgot to take it with him. He may have bad luck this year.


Hoppin' John
Adapted from Meet the Shannons

1 cup long-grain brown rice, cooked (I used microwave)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash of liquid smoke
1/2 green bell pepper, diced (I used my frozen bell peppers from the summer)
1/4 red onion, diced
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup greens (collard, mustard, spinach - I used some of my frozen kale)
Bacon and/or hot sauce to top (green onions are also good)

In a cast-iron skillet, heat olive oil and liquid smoke on medium heat. Add the peppers, onion, and black eyed peas, and mix. Stir in creole seasoning, onion powder, and greens. When the onion and peppers are tender, add the rice and soy sauce. Let heat for about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Seared Scallops with Browned-Butter Lemon Sauce

My gentleman and I didn't bother making any plans for New Year's because we assumed we'd go to the usual parties and/or bars to celebrate. But everyone is getting old and planned to stay home, or they were out of town, and suddenly we were left without plans. We thought about having a party at our house but that didn't work either. So then we thought about going out to a Fancy Dinner at a Fancy Restaurant, but when you're 48 hours away from New Year's Eve, there are approximately zero reservations available.

So yesterday my gentleman said, "We both love to cook. We can easily just make a Fancy Dinner here at home." And so that is what we did. I got to the grocery store at 8pm, just as the seafood man was packing up, and got six large sea scallops. There were no lobster tails or crab legs, but whatever. I also found a filet mignon for my gentleman. Didn't know what I was going to do with these things, but I found them and at 8pm on a holiday we can't be picky, so I brought them home.


Here is what we did:
-I found a recipe for scallops**, which I will post below. They were primarily for myself but I threw two on my gentleman's plate to make his a surf-and-turf.
-Gentleman cooked his steak as he cooks all his steaks: seared it with some Northwoods seasoning from Penzeys, finished under the broiler in the oven.
-Homemade chive mashed potatoes
-Wine and beer

**I should note: I cooked these scallops goddamned perfectly. I was so proud of myself.

It was yummy, it was fun, and we certainly saved a lot of money. Plus there was something so wonderful about just being with him and having our own private New Year's celebration.

Happy 2014! Let's try to make more recipes this year.


Seared Scallops with Browned-Butter Lemon Sauce
Handle the Heat blog, adapted from Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper

For the scallops:
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops, tendons removed and patted very dry
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the sauce:
Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, swirling constantly, until the butter turns a dark golden brown color and has a nutty aroma, about 4 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Add the shallot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the parsley, thyme, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan with a lid to keep warm.

For the scallops:
Sprinkle the dry scallops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of the scallops in a single layer, flat side down, and cook, without moving, until well browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet. Using tongs, carefully flip the scallops and continue to cook until the sides of the scallops are firm and the centers are opaque, 30 to 90 seconds. Remove the scallops to a plate and tent loosely with foil. Wipe out the skillet and repeat cooking with the remaining oil, scallops, and butter. Serve immediately with browned butter sauce.

Yield: 4 servings