Saturday, March 28, 2015

Shrimp Scampi with Pasta (or Squash)

When I was in fifth grade, I used to read my teacher's Woman's Day and Family Circle magazines when she brought them into school. Then I started subscribing to them myself. I loved the quick tips for cleaning, simple recipes, decorating ideas, and human interest stories. Nothing was heavy. So stereotypically female but I've always been a domestic kind of person. Everything was a quick little sound bite of an article. IT WAS A PRINT FORM OF PINTEREST. But then I was poor after college and cancelled most of my magazine subscriptions, and then Pinterest was invented so those kinds of magazines were no longer needed.

Every once in awhile, I find a recipe or a little article I may have saved and I feel nostalgic. This is one of those recipes! I found it while looking for a quick shrimp dish to serve with some baked spaghetti squash, because I'm currently obsessed with spaghetti squash. While the squash was resting after baking, I made the shrimp. Super fast! Then I sauteed the shredded spaghetti squash in the remainder of the butter/garlic sauce in the pan. Served together, and ta-da! Shrimp scampi with not-pasta.

It was delicious and simple. I thought it paired so well with the spaghetti squash. I would make this again! Here is the original recipe.

squash

Scampi with Pasta
Woman's Day, April 2006

12 ounces linguine
3 tablespoons butter, cut up
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound peeled, deveined, extra-large shrimp, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Boil linguine as package directs. Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat until butter melts. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add shrimp, scallions, salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes just until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat; stir in lemon zest, juice and parsley. Drain pasta; serve with shrimp.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Italian Cauliflower Sauce

I'm going to start off with the picture.

cauliflower

Now, at a brief glance or from a distance, this looks like meat sauce. I brought leftovers for lunch and my coworkers were confused. It is not meat. It is cauliflower. Apparently, if you chop up cauliflower and cook it in tomato sauce, it ends up looking like ground beef. So that's weird.

But this was delicious! It did take a LOT longer to simmer than I had anticipated. Even after an hour, it still wasn't the right thickness. I'd actually decrease the amount of water next time to make it thicker. I also added some extra Italian seasoning. It was delicious and I really liked it a lot. And reheated very well!

Italian Cauliflower Sauce
Penzeys

1 medium head cauliflower
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
5 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon oregano and/or basil

Clean the cauliflower and cut into small pieces, leaving some stem attached. Coat the cauliflower well with olive oil, using 2-4 tablespoons or more, as desired. Check that it is all coated so it doesn't burn. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, cook, stirring and turning occasionally, until it starts to brown a bit, 5-10 minutes depending on how much cauliflower is in the pan. Cover, reduce the heat a bit and let cook a little longer until it is nearly done but not soft (al dente). Add the tomato paste and stir it into the cauliflower well, then add water. Fill the paste cans with some of the water to get out every bit of paste. Sti to combine, add sugar, salt, pepper, and oregano or basil. Raise heat to medium high, bring to a boil, then turn down to low to simmer, uncovered, until it has reduced to the thickness you desire. Serve over small-sized pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fairy Bites

One of the easiest cookies to make is shortbread. It has so few ingredients, requires very little time, and one tiny square can be as satisfying as any other large cookie. So, out of laziness, I made these little shortbread bites. I used 100s & 1000s, the Australian version of nonpareils, that a friend mailed me awhile ago. They were so festive and pretty!

These came together really quickly. They didn't crumble because you cut them into squares before they're baked, rather than afterward, so they hold their shape. I read reviews of the original recipe on the Land O' Lakes website, and people recommended doubling the recipe but still making it in an 8x8 pan, so that the squares would a little more substantial. I did this, and I'm glad I did. I'd definitely suggest doing that if you make it, too.

shortbread

Fairy Bites
Pink Piccadilly Pastries, adapted from Land O' Lakes

1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp multi-colored nonpareils

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap (or cut parchment to fit) leaving 1-inch overhang.

Combine butter, sugar and almond extract in medium bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low, add flour and salt. Beat until well mixed. Stir in nonpareils.

Knead mixture 4-5 times in bowl until dough forms a ball. Pat dough evenly into prepared pan. Use overhang to lift dough from pan. Cut dough into 1/2-inch squares. Gently place squares 1/2 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake approximately 15 minutes or until bottoms just begin to brown.

Yield: about 100 little squares

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Homemade Burrito Bowls

I love the burrito bowls at Chipotle and Qdoba but neither of those are convenient to my house so I never get them. I had some leftover rice from a fancy dinner my gentleman made earlier this week, and all the required vegetables for this homemade burrito bowl recipe, except for an avocado (which I did miss). I didn't really change anything. Gentleman was going to put chicken on his but ended up skipping the chicken and pouring the whole thing into a giant tortilla (so his was a "burrito" not a "burrito bowl," but that's ok). You could easily substitute anything you want. If you're doing paleo/whole 30, you could probably even just sub in guacamole for the sour cream to make the chipotle cream because it's such a thick consistency anyway.

I really liked this. I like the versatility of it, and I liked that it only took four minutes to make. I will hang on to this recipe for weeknight dinners.

bowl

Homemade Burrito Bowls
From Damn Delicious

1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup salsa
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
15 ounce whole-kernel corn, drained
15 ounce black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Chipotle Cream
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chipotle paste
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

To make the chipotle cream sauce, whisk together sour cream, chipotle paste, garlic, lime juice and salt; set aside.

In a large saucepan of 1 1 /2 cups water, cook rice according to package instructions; let cool and stir in salsa; set aside.

To assemble the bowls, divide rice mixture into serving bowls; top with lettuce, corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.

Serve immediately, drizzled with chipotle cream sauce.

Yield: 6 servings (I think this is a high estimate)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cookie Monday: Dark Chocolate Mint Cookies

For Cookie Monday, I wanted a simple chocolate mint cookie and didn't want to have to melt any chips down like I do for my usual recipe. I adapted this recipe from Bakerella to my needs by substituting in some mint chocolate chips (green for St Paddy's, of course) instead of the peppermint M&Ms. It worked very nicely and, while love my usual mint cookie recipe more, these were still wonderful. A little crunchier than I usually like, but that's my own preference. Happy St Patrick's Day!

cookie

Dark Chocolate Mint Cookies
Recipe from Bakerella

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa (such as Hershey's Special Dark)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white chocolate peppermint M&M's
1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour, cocoa, soda, salt and coffee crystals in a medium bowl using a wire whisk. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

Add flour mixture to creamed butter and mix until combined.
Stir in M&M's and chocolate chips and then chill dough for about 30 minutes.

Roll into balls. (Note: reserve a few chocolate chips and candies to press into the tops of the dough just before baking.)

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done. Cool and eat.

Yield: 2 dozen, but I doubled the recipe and got 6 dozen, so I guess it depends on how big you make them

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie

Yesterday was Pi Day (3/14/15 = 3.1415) AND we were going to a St Patrick's Day party at our friend's house, so I made a grasshopper pie. It's barely even a recipe. I was inspired by this beautiful pie recipe and made a super simple pie.

This is what it looked like after I started cutting it up and serving it, and then realized hadn't taken a picture:
pie

So basically it's an Oreo crust filled with softened Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream, topped with Cool Whip and some chocolate fudge drizzle. B&J's mint ice cream is white, not green, so it didn't look minty. You could probably add food coloring if you care. I didn't have any extra Oreos or else I would have cut them up and put them on top. This pie was perfect and delicious and so easy. Yum!

Here's the original recipe:

Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie
From Your Homebased Mom

1 chocolate cookie crust
1.5 quarts of green, mint ice cream
Hot fudge sauce
Mint Oreo Cookies
Cool Whip

Fill cookie crust with ice cream.
Cover top with desired amount of Cool Whip.
Cover top with chopped cookies.
Drizzle with hot fudge sauce.
Freeze until firm and ready to serve.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower

My gentleman wanted me to make a butternut squash soup this week so I took an old favorite for Butternut Squash Soup with Sage-Parmesan Croutons and updated it a little bit.

Instead of croutons, I roasted some cauliflower along with the butternut squash. I sprinkled the cauliflower and squash with sage and roasted garlic powder, and a little parmesan on the cauliflower. I added about half of the cauliflower to the soup when I added the squash, plus a bay leaf for a little extra flavor.

Then at the end, I pureed all of that. Including the bay leaf. I forgot about the bay leaf. I panicked and googled whether we were going to die from this. As it turns out, bay leaves are safe to eat but are generally unpleasant because they are hard and can be sharp and poky. Luckily, I pureed mine pretty well so it wasn't really noticeable and actually did add a nice flavor. But I will try hard never to do that again.

Anyway so after I poured the soup into the bowls, I divided the rest of the roasted cauliflower on top. It was pretty great. I really liked this variation and am proud of myself for experimenting. And if you feel like sticking to the original recipe, it's always been delicious!

leaf

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Black-Bottom Cupcakes

For my gentleman's birthday, he wanted these black-bottom cupcakes. They're a chocolate cake with a cream cheese center. Pretty easy to make. They definitely were good but they weren't as pretty as I'd hoped. I would make these again.

cupcakes

Black-Bottom Cupcakes
The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz
via Smitten Kitchen

For the Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes: Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Hot Wing Cupcakes

My gentleman had a birthday this past weekend. He is now the big 2-7 and I continue in my cougar status, though saying we're 27 and 30 (almost 31) feels better than when we were 24 and 28. (No srsly the gentleman has been around that long already - weird, right?)

We had a party. We had lots of beer. I had lots of rum. I made Sideline Smokies and we learned the next morning what happens if you leave them in the crockpot on low overnight because you forgot to turn it off (they get really shriveled, like at 7-11).

I made some black-bottom cupcakes, but I also found this fun recipe on Pinterest. And because my gentleman accidentally gave it a thumbs-up when I texted it to him, I made them. I'm going to just start this off with the photo because they're beautiful.

cupcake

OK now that you have seen how beautiful they are, and how neatly mashed potatoes can be piped onto a corn muffin cupcake, I have to tell you they were apparently not delicious. BUT COOL, RIGHT? And that's half the battle.

So this is what it is: a corn muffin mix, with some blue cheese and hot sauce mixed in, baked in mini cupcake pans. Topped with mashed potatoes. Topped with a piece of a buffalo chicken wing. Garnished with some hot sauce and more blue cheese.

I will not be making these again, no. BUT THEY ARE SO COOL.

Hot Wing Cupcakes
Teacher By Day, Chef By Night
Adapted from The Cupcake Project

1 package Corn Bread Muffin mix (& everything that your mix needs: milk, egg, butter)
Instant Mashed Potatoes (& the things you need for that: milk, water, butter)
1/2 dozen Frozen Chicken Nuggets (or tenders or wings OR make your own)
Frank's Hot Sauce (to taste)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (to taste)
2 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
2 tablespoons Sour Cream

Follow the directions on your package to cook your Corn Bread Muffins (and throw about a 1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce on top of each uncooked corn bread to give that some kick). Go ahead and stick a chunk (or 5) of Blue Cheese right into the center of your uncooked batter to have a hidden burst of Blue Cheese in the middle!

Make your instant mashed potatoes (according to package directions). Once they are done, add the ranch and some sour cream (and maybe some milk) until you get them the consistency of really thick frosting or something that you can easily pipe on top of your cupcakes

Bake your chicken of choice (according to package directions) & then toss in your hot sauce.

Drizzle some hot sauce on top of your cupcakes, then top with a piece of chicken. Carefully put some Blue Cheese on top of the cupcakes as well (and maybe even some more hot sauce if you are feeling crazy).

Yield: 6 big cupcakes or 12 mini cupcakes

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Coconut Bread

My partner at work will be 40 on Monday and we have had a really rough time at work lately. While dreaming of vacationing in Bermuda or the Keys, she mentioned that she desperately wanted to go to Key West because there is a restaurant that serves the best coconut bread in the world. They also happen to have posted the recipe. So I immediately started baking for her.

She warned me ahead of time that she's tried to replicate it before and failed. It was too dense, it didn't cook through, the edges were overcooked. I'd like to say I had better luck, but I didn't really. It did cook through, but there was a dark crust on the edge and the bread was dense. I'd imagine it's delicious toasted, though.

I did make a couple changes that I'd hoped would help (but didn't). Well, first, I used Malibu Rum instead of the coconut extract because I didn't have any extract. I also subbed two tablespoons of coconut oil for two tablespoons of the butter. And I ran out of flour, so I used a half-cup of cake flour to cover the missing amount. It was pretty good, but not good enough to keep the recipe. Perhaps some day I will have the real thing in Key West!

I don't have a picture of this because I gave it away pretty much immediately after I baked it. It looks like bread.

Coconut Bread
Keys Net
Courtesy of Pepe's Cafe and Steak House in Key West

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup fancy shredded coconut
1 cup sour cream
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and extract, then sour cream. Add the coconut. Fold in flour, baking powder and baking soda. Turn into lightly greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until done.

Makes 1 loaf, 9-10 slices.

Serve toasted or warm. Freezes well.

Suggested substitutions: omit coconut extract and coconut. Use maple extract and walnuts for Maple Walnut bread. Use lemon extract and 1 tbsp. poppy seeds for Lemon Poppy Seed bread. Use vanilla extract and any fruit such as peaches, pears, cranberries, etc.

Vegetarian Pot Pie

While cleaning out the freezer I remembered I had a package of puff pastry that I needed to use up. With all the snow and freezing temperatures outside this week, pot pie seemed appropriate. I decided to start with this basic recipe from Aida Mollenkamp and tweak it a little bit.

I didn't have any fennel, so I added a little bit of extra onion and then some cauliflower. I used a frozen "peas and carrots" mix since I already had that from the fried rice I made last week. I added some dried thyme in addition to the chives and parsley, and a good tablespoon or so of the new roasted garlic powder from Penzeys. I think that really made it amazing. I made two different pans of this, because for my gentleman's, I cut up some pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and mixed it into the filling.

Look how bubbly it was coming out of the oven!
pot pie

We both really liked it a lot! It was definitely comforting in this weather. The puff pastry got soggy really quickly (not sure if it was just the brand used) and was horrible warmed up the next day, but the filling was still great. I would make this again and try out different variations.

EDITED TO ADD: Oh my gosh, I went to add this to the recipe index and discovered that I already made it, five years ago. HAHAHAHAHA. Well, at least I know it's a solid recipe.

pot pie

Vegetarian Pot Pie
Aida Mollenkamp, Food Network

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 small heads fennel, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
12 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced (about 5 cups)
1 small russet potato, peeled and diced small (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium mushroom broth
1 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen baby green peas
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
1/4 cup parsley
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 large egg yolk
7 ounces store-bought puff pastry or pie dough, defrosted if frozen

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Melt butter over medium heat in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add fennel, onions, and carrots, and cook until just soft and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and potato, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms have let off water and are shrunken, about 6 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir to coat, and cook until raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add broth and milk, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, add peas, herbs, and vinegar, and stir to coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

Whisk egg together with 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.

With kitchen shears, cut dough to fit over the baking dish. Place dough over filling and tuck into the edges of the dish. Brush dough with egg wash and cut slits in the top to vent. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Mini Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I initially wanted to make a different cookie for Monday, but we got a lot of snow on Sunday and I dropped one of our two remaining eggs, so I had to be creative and find a recipe that would yield a lot of cookies using only one egg.

Thank you, Martha Stewart. I'd clipped a recipe from one of her Weddings issues, a long time ago, for a large batch of mini chocolate chip cookies. Fifty cookies, using only one egg! Sold.

So these were super easy to make. Sometimes I have to go through the baking cycle 4-5 times to get all the cookies done, but this only took twice. They were not particularly special, but they were cute little cookie nubbins and that was god enough.

cookies

Mini Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
Martha Stewart Weddings

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Beat in flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the sour cream. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover, and refrigerate dough until firm, about 1 hour.

Using a teaspoon, shape dough into 3/4 inch balls, and space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake until pale golden brown and centers are set, 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly on sheets on wire racks, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Cookies are best the day they are made, but they can be stored in airtight containers for up to 1 week.

Yield: 50 cookies